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A VOICE FROM THE SOUTH. 



BY 

A BLACK WOMAN OF THE SOUTH, 



XENIA, OHIO : 

THE ALDINE PRINTING HOUSE. 

1892. 



COPYRIGHT 1892 

BY 

ANNA JULIA COOPER. 



A VOICE p^OM Tf4E SOUTH- 



" IS5WK E>EG^EJH 
I FO^GEE 

If cthe song be living yet, 

tjew pmembe^ vaguely now, 

lm WAS HONESm, ANYHOW." 



Bishop Benjamin William J^nejuw, 

With profound ^bgai^d foi^ his 
hbi^oig devotion to 

GOD AND JUHE I^AGE, 

both in Church and in State,— and with sincere 
esteem for his unselfish espousal of the cause 
of the Black Woman and of every human interest 
that lacks a Voice and needs a Defender, this, 
the primary utterance of my heart and pen, 

Is Affectionately Inscribed. 



CONTENTS. 

PART FIRST. 

Soprano Obligato. 

Womanhood a Vital Element in the Regene- 
ration and Progress of a Race ...••• 9 

The Higher Education of Woman 48 

"Woman vs. The Indian" 80 

The Status of Woman in America 127 

1 

PART SECOND. 

©uctcti fLD IlIBIJUUM. 

Has America a Race Problem; If so, How can 

it best be Solved ? 149 

The Negro as presented in American Literature 175 

What Are We Worth ? 228 

The Gain from a Belief . 286 



OUH ^fllSOJSt D'ETRE. 



N the clash and clatter of our American Con- 
flict, it has been said that the South remains 
Silent. Like the Sphinx she inspires vocifer- 
ous disputation, but herself takes little part in 
the noisy controversy. One muffled strain in 
the Silent South, a jarring chord and a vague 
and uncomprehended cadenza has been and 
still is the Negro. And of that muffled chord, 
the one mute and voiceless note has been the 
sadly expectant Black Woman, 

An infant crying in the night, 
An infant crying for the light ; 
And with no language — but a cry. 

The colored man's inheritance and apportion- 
ment is still the sombre crux, the perplexing 
cut de sac of the nation, — the dumb skeleton 
in the closet provoking ceaseless harangues, 
indeed, but little understood and|Seldom con- 
sulted. Attorneys for the plaintiff: and attor- 



IT 

neys for the defendant, with bungling gaucherie 
have analyzed and dissected, theorized and 
synthesized with sublime ignorance or pathetic 
misapprehension of counsel from the black 
client. One important witness has not yet been 
heard from. The summing up of the evidence 
deposed, and the charge to the jury have been 
made — but no word from the Black Woman. 

It is because I believe the American people 
to be conscientiously committed to a fair trial 
and ungarbled evidence, and because I feel it 
essential to a perfect understanding and an 
equitable verdict that truth from each stand- 
point be presented at the bar, — that this little 
Voice has been added to the already full chorus. 
The " other side" has not been represented by 
one who " lives there." And not many can 
more sensibly realize and more accurately tell 
the weight and the fret of the " long dull 
pain " than the open-eyed but hitherto voice- 
less Black Woman of America. 

The feverish agitation, the nerfervid energy, 
the busy objectivity of the more turbulent 
life of our men serves, it may be, at once to 



— Ill- 
cloud or color their vision somewhat, and as 
well to relieve the smart and deaden the pain 
for them. Their voice is in consequence not 
always temperate and calm, and at the same 
time radically corrective and sanatory. At 
any rate, as our Caucasian barristers are not 
to blame if they cannot quite put themselves in 
the dark man's place, neither should the dark 
man be wholly expected fully and adequately 
to reproduce the exact Voice of the Black 
Woman. 

Delicately sensitive at every pore to social 
atmospheric conditions, her calorimeter may 
well be studied in the interest of accuracy 
and fairness ill diagnosing what is often con- 
ceded to be a " puzzling " case. If these 
broken utterances can in any way help to a 
clearer vision and a truer pulse-beat in study- 
ing our Nation's Problem, this Voice by a 
Black Woman of the South will not have 
been raised in vain. 



Tawawa Chimney Corner; 
Sept. 17, 1892, 



SOPHfl^O OBLilGRTO, 



For they the Royal-hearted Women are 
Who nobly love the noblest, yet have grace 
For needy, suffering lives in lowliest place ; 
Carrying a choicer sunlight in their smile, 
The heavenliest ray that pitieth the vile. 

>fC >f. 5f. 

Though I were happy, throned beside the king, 
I should be tender to each little thing 
With hurt warm breast, that had no speech to tell 
Its inward pangs ; and I would sooth it well 
With tender touch and with a low, soft moan 
For company. 

—George Eliot. 



* WOMANHOOD A VITAL ELEMENT 

IN THE REGENERATION AND 

PROGRESS OF A RACE. 



HE two sources from which, perhaps, 
modern civilization has derived its noble 
and ennobling ideal of woman are Christianity 
and the Feudal System. 

In Oriental countries woman has been uni- 
formly devoted to a life of ignorance, infamy, 
and complete stagnation. The Chinese shoe 
of to-day does not more entirely dwarf, cramp, 
and destroy her physical powers, than have 
the customs, laws, and social instincts, which 
from remotest ages have governed our Sister 
of the East, enervated and blighted her men- 
tal and moral life. 

Mahomet makes no account of woman 
whatever in his polity. The Koran, which, 
unlike our Bible, was a product and not a 

•Read before the convocation of colored clergy of the Protestant Epis- 
copal Church at Washington, D. C, 1886. 



10 A VOICE FROM 

growth, tried to address itself to the needs of 
Arabian civilization as Mahomet with his cir- 
cumscribed pow r ers saw them. The Arab was 
a nomad. Home to him meant his present 
camping place. That deity who, according 
to our western ideals, makes and sanctifies 
the home, was to him a transient bauble to be 
toyed with so long as it gave pleasure and 
then to be thrown aside for a new one. As a 
personality, an individual soul, capable of 
eternal growth and unlimited development, 
and destined to mould and shape the civiliza- 
tion of the future to an incalculable extent, 
Mahomet did not know woman. There was 
no hereafter, no paradise for her. The heav- 
en of the Mussulman is peopled and made 
gladsome not by the departed wife, or sister, 
or mother, but by houri — a figment of Ma- 
homet's brain, partaking of the ethereal qual- 
ities of angels, yet imbued with all the vices 
and inanity of Oriental women. The harem 
here, and — " dust to dust " hereafter, this was 
the hope, the inspiration, the summum bonum 
of the Eastern woman's life ! With what re- 
sult on the life of the nation, the "Unspeaka- 
ble Turk," the "sick man" of modern Europe 
can to-day exemplify. 

Says a certain writer : "The private life of 



THE SOUTH. 11 

the Turk is vilest of the vile, unprogressive, 
unambitious, and inconceivably low." And 
yet Turkey is not without her great men. 
She has produced most brilliant minds ; men 
skilled in all the intricacies of diplomacy and 
statesmanship; men whose intellects could 
grapple with the deep problems of empire 
and manipulate the subtle agencies which 
check-mate kings. But these minds were 
not the normal outgrowth of a healthy trunk. 
They seemed rather ephemeral excrescencies 
which shoot far out with all the vigor and 
promise, apparently, of strong branches; but 
soon alas fall into decay and ugliness because 
there is no soundness in the root, no life-giv- 
ing sap, permeating, strengthening and per- 
petuating the whole. There is a worm at the 
core ! The homelife is impure ! and when we 
look for fruit, like apples of Sodom, it crum- 
bles within our grasp into dust and ashes. 

It is pleasing to turn from this effete and 
immobile civilization to a society still fresh 
and vigorous, whose seed is in itself, and 
whose very name is synonymous with all that 
is progressive, elevating and inspiring, viz., 
the European bud and the American flower 
of modern civilization. 

And here let me say parenthetically that 



12 A VOICE FROM 

our satisfaction in American institutions rests 
not on the fruition we now enjoy, but springs 
rather from the possibilities and promise that 
are inherent in the system, though as yet, 
perhaps, far in the future. 

" Happiness," says Madame de Stael, "con- 
sists not in perfections attained, but in a sense 
of progress, the result of our own endeavor 
under conspiring circumstances toward a goal 
which continually advances and broadens and 
deepens till it is swallowed up in the Infinite." 
Such conditions in embryo are all that we 
claim for the land of the West. We have not 
yet reached our ideal in American civilization. 
The pessimists even declare that we are not 
marching in that direction. But there can be 
no doubt that here in America is the arena in 
which the next triumph of civilization is to be 
won ; and here too we find promise abundant 
and possibilities infinite. 

Now let us see on what basis this hope for 
our country primarily and fundamentally 
rests. Can any one doubt that it is chiefly on 
the homelife and on the influence of good 
women in those homes? Says Macanlay: 
"You may judge a nation's rank in the scale 
of civilization from the way they treat their 
women." And Emerson, "I have thought 



THE SOUTH. 13 

that a sufficient measure of civilization is the 
influence of good women." Now this high 
regard for woman, this germ of a prolific idea 
which in our own day is bearing such rich 
and varied fruit, was ingrafted into European 
civilization, we have said, from two sources, 
the Christian Church and the Feudal S} 7 stem. 
For although the Feudal System can in no 
sense be said to have originated the idea, yet 
there can be no doubt that the habits of life 
and modes of thought to which Feudalism gave 
rise, materially fostered and developed it ; for 
they gave us chivalry, than which no institu- 
tion has more sensibly magnified and elevated 
woman's position in society. 

Tacitus dwells on the tender regard for wo- 
man entertained by these rugged barbarians 
before they left their northern homes to over- 
run Europe. Old Norse legends too, and 
primitive poems, all breathe the same spirit 
of love of home and veneration for the pure 
and noble influence there presiding — the wife, 
the sister, the mother. 

And when later on we see the settled life 
of the Middle Ages "oozing out," as M. 
Guizot expresses it, from the plundering and 
pillaging life of barbarism and crystallizing 
into the Feudal System, the tiger of the field 



14 A VOICE FROM 

is brought once more within the charmed cir- 
cle of the goddesses of his castle, and his im- 
agination weaves around them a halo whose 
reflection possibly has not yet altogether van- 
ished. 

It is true the spirit of Christianity had not 
yet put the seal of catholicity on this senti- 
ment. Chivalry, according to Bascom, was 
but the toning down and softening of a rough 
and lawless period. It gave a roseate glow 
to a bitter winter's day. Those who looked 
out from castle windows revelled in its " ame- 
thyst tints." But God's poor, the weak, the 
unlovely, the commonplace were still freezing 
and starving none the less in unpitied, unre- 
lieved loneliness. 

Respect for woman, the much lauded chiv- 
alry of the Middle Ages, meant what I fear it 
still means to some men in our own day — re- 
spect for the elect few among whom they ex- 
pect to consort. 

The idea of the radical amelioration of wo- 
mankind, reverence for woman as woman re- 
gardless of rank, wealth, or culture, was to 
come from that rich and bounteous fountain 
from which flow all our liberal and universal 
ideas — the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

And yet the Christian Church at the time 



THE SOUTH. 15 

of which we have been speaking would seem 
to have been doing even less to protect and 
elevate woman than the little done by secular 
society. The Church as an organization 
committed a double offense against woman in 
the Middle Ages. Making of marriage a sac- 
rament and at the same time insisting on the 
celibacy of the clergy and other religious or- 
ders, she gave an inferior if not an impure 
character to the marriage relation, especially 
fitted to reflect discredit on woman. Would 
this were all or the worst ! but the Church by 
the licentiousness of its chosen servants in- 
vaded the household and established too often 
as vicious connections those relations which it 
forbade to assume openly and in good faith. 
" Thus," to use the words of our authority, 
" the religious corps became as numerous, as 
searching, and as unclean as the frogs of 
Egypt, which penetrated into all quarters, 
into the ovens and kneading troughs, leaving 
their filthy trail wherever they went." Says 
Chaucer with characteristic satire, speaking 
of the Friars : 

' Women may now go safely up and doun, 
In every bush, and under every tree, 
Ther is non other incubus but he, 
And he ne will don hem no dishonour.' 



1(> A VOICE FROM 

Henry, Bishop of Liege, could unblushingly 
boast the birth of twenty-two children in 
fourteen years.* 

It may help us under some of the perplexi- 
ties which beset our way in " the one Catholic 
and Apostolic Church " to-day, to recall some 
of the corruptions and incongruities against 
which the Bride of Christ has had to struggle 
in her past history and in spite of which she 
has kept, through many vicissitudes, the faith 
once delivered to the saints. Individuals, or- 
ganizations, whole sections of the Church mil- 
itant may outrage the Christ whom they pro- 
fess, may ruthlessly trample under foot both 
the spirit and the letter of his precepts, yet 
not till we hear the voices audibly saying 
" Come let us depart hence," shall we cease to 
believe and cling to the promise, " 1 am with 
you to the end of the ivorld" 

" Yet saints their watch are keeping, 
The cry goes up ' How long! ' 
And soon the night of weeping 
Shall be the morn of song.'' 

However much then the facts of any particu- 
lar period of history may seem to deny it, I 
for one do not doubt that the source of the 
vitalizing principle of woman's development 

*Bascom. 



THE SOUTH. 17 

and amelioration is the Christian Church, so 
far as that church is coincident with Christ- 
ianity. 

Christ gave ideals not formula. The Gos- 
pel is a germ requiring millennia for its growth 
and ripening. It needs and at the same time 
helps to form around itself a soil enriched in 
civilization, and perfected in culture and in- 
sight without which the embryo can neither 
be unfolded or comprehended. With all the 
strides our civilization has made from the first 
to the nineteenth century, we can boast not 
an idea, not a principle of action, not a pro- 
gressive social force but was already mutely 
foreshadowed, or directly enjoined in that 
simple tale of a meek and lowly life. The 
quiet face of the Nazarene is ever seen a little 
wav ahead, never too far to come down to and 
touch the life of the lowest in days the dark- 
est, yet ever leading onward, still onward, the 
tottering childish feet of our strangely boast- 
ful civilization. 

By laying down for woman the same code 
of morality, the same standard of purity, as 
for man ; by refusing to countenance the 
shameless and equally guilty monsters who 
were gloating over her fall, — graciously stoop- 
ing in all the majesty of his own spotlessness 



18 A VOICE FROM 

to wipe away the filth and grime of her guilty 
past and bid her go in peace and sin no more; 
and again in the moments of his own careworn 
and footsore dejection, turning trustful^ and 
lovingly, away from the heartless snubbing 
and sneers, away from the cruel malignity of 
mobs and prelates in the dusty marts of Jeru- 
salem to the ready sympathy, loving appre- 
ciation and unfaltering friendship of that quiet 
home at Bethany; and even at the last, by 
his dying bequest to the disciple whom he 
loved, signifying the protection and tender 
regard to be extended to that sorrowing 
mother and ever afterward to the sex she 
represented ; — throughout his life and in his 
death he has given to men a rule and guide 
for the estimation of woman as an equal, as a 
helper, as a friend, and as a sacred charge to 
be sheltered and cared for with a brother's 
love and sympathy, lessons which nineteen 
centuries' gigantic strides in knowledge, arts, 
and sciences, in social and ethical principles 
have not been able to probe to their depth or 
to exhaust in practice. 

It seems not too much to say then of the 
vitalizing, regenerating, and progressive influ- 
ence of womanhood on the civilization of to- 
day, that, while it was foreshadowed among 



THE SOUTH. 19 

Germanic nations in the far away dawn of 
their history as a narrow, sickly and stunted 
growth, it yet owes its catholicity and power, 
the deepening of its roots and broadening of 
its branches to Christianity. 

The union of these two forces, the Barbaric 
and the Christian, was not long delayed after 
the Fall of the Empire. The Church, which 
fell with Rome, finding herself in danger of 
being swallowed up by barbarism, with char- 
acteristic vigor and fertility of resources, ad- 
dressed herself immediately to the task of 
conquering her conquerers. The means chosen 
does credit to her power of penetration and 
adaptability, as well as to her profound, unerr- 
ing, all-compassing diplomacy ; and makes 
us even now wonder if aught human can suc- 
cessfully and ultimately withstand her far-see- 
ing designs and brilliant policy, or gainsay 
her well-earned claim to the word Catholic. 

She saw the barbarian, little more developed 
than a wild beast. She forbore to antagonize 
and mystify his warlike nature by a full blaze 
of the heartsearching and humanizing tenets 
of her great Head. She said little of the rule 
" If thy brother smite thee on one cheek, turn 
to him the other also ; " but thought it suffi- 
cient for the needs of those times, to establish 



20 A VOICE FROM 

the so-called " Truce of God " under which 
men were bound to abstain from butchering 
one another for three days of each week and 
on Church festivals. In other words, she re- 
spected their individuality : non-resistance 
pure and simple being for them an utter im- 
possibility, she contented herself with less 
radical measures calculated to lead up finally 
to the full measure of the benevolence of 
Christ. 

]S r ext she took advantage of the barbarian's 
sensuous love of gaudy display and put all 
her magnificent garments on. She could not 
capture him by physical force, she would daz- 
zle him by gorgeous spectacles. It is said 
that Romanism gained more in pomp and rit- 
ual during this trying period of the Dark 
Ages than throughout all her former history. 

The result was she carried her point. Once 
more Rome laid her ambitious hand on the 
temporal power, and allied with Charlemagne, 
aspired to rule the world through a civiliza- 
tion dominated by Christianity and permeated 
by the traditions and instincts of those sturdy 
barbarians. 

Here was the confluence of the two streams 
we have been tracing, which, united now, 
stretch before us as a broad majestic river. 



THE SOUTH. 21 

In regard to woman it was the meeting of 
two noble and ennobling forces, two kindred 
ideas the resultant bf which, we doubt not, is 
destined to be a potent force in the betterment 
of the world. 

Now after our appeal to history comparing 
nations destitute of this force and so destitute 
also of the principle of progress, with other 
nations among whom the influence of woman 
is prominent coupled with a brisk, progressive, 
satisfying civilization, — if in addition we find 
this strong presumptive evidence corroborated 
by reason and experience, we may conclude 
that these two equally varying concomitants 
are linked as cause and effect; in other words, 
that the position of woman in society deter- 
mines the vital elements of its regeneration 
and progress. 

Now that this is so on a priori grounds all 
must admit. And this not because woman is 
better or stronger or wiser than man, but from 
the nature of the case, because it is she who 
must first form the man by directing the earliest 
impulses of his character. 

Byron and Wordsworth were both geniuses 
and would have stamped themselves on the 
thought of their age under any circumstances ; 
and yet we find the one a savor of life unto life, 



22 A VOICE FROM 

the other of death unto death. " Byron, like 
a rocket, shot his way upward with scorn and 
repulsion, flamed out in wild, explosive, bril- 
liant excesses and disappeared in darkness 
made all the more palpable."* 

Wordsworth lent of his gifts to reinforce 
that " power in the Universe which makes for 
righteousness " by taking the harp handed him 
from Heaven and using it to swell the strains 
of angelic choirs. Two locomotives equally 
mighty stand facing opposite tracks ; the one 
to rush headlong to destruction with all its 
precious freight, the other to toil grandly and 
gloriously up the steep embattlements to Heav- 
en and to God. Who — who can say what a 
world of consequences hung on the first plac- 
ing and starting of these enormous forces ! 

Woman, Mother, — your responsibility is one 
that might make angels tremble and fear to 
take hold ! To trifle with it, to ignore or mis- 
use it, is to treat lightly the most sacred and 
solemn trust ever confided by God to human 
kind. The training of children is a task on 
which an infinity of weal or woe depends. 
Who does not covet it? Yet who does not 
stand awe-struck before its momentous issues! 
It is a matter of small moment, it seems to 

*Bascom's Eng. Lit, p. 253. 



THE SOUTH. 28 

me, whether that lovely girl in whose accom- 
plishments you take such pride and delight, 
can enter the gay and crowded salon with the 
ease and elegance of this or that French or 
English gentlewoman, compared with the 
decision as to whether her individuality is 
going to reinforce the good or the evil elements 
of the world. The lace and the diamonds, the 
dance and the theater, gain a new signifi- 
cance when scanned in their bearings on such 
issues. Their influence on the individual per- 
sonality, and through her on the society and 
civilization which she vitalizes and inspires — 
all this and more must be weighed in the bal- 
ance before the jury can return a just and 
intelligent verdict as to the innocence or bane- 
fulness of these apparently simple amuse- 
ments. 

Now the fact of woman's influence on soci- 
ety being granted, what are its practical bear- 
ings on the work which brought together this 
conference of colored clergy and laymen 
in Washington? "We come not here to 
talk." Life is too busy, too pregnant with 
meaning and far reaching consequences to 
allow you to come this far for mere intellec- 
tual entertainment. 

The vital agency of womanhood in the re- 



24 A VOICE FROM 

generation and progress of a race, as a general 
question, is conceded almost before it is fairly 
stated. I confess one of the difficulties for 
me in the subject assigned lay in its obvious- 
ness. The plea is taken away by the opposite 
attorney's granting the whole question. 

" Woman's influence on social progress " — 
who in Christendom doubts or questions it ? 
One may as well be called on to prove that 
the sun is the source of light and heat and 
energy to this many-sided little world. 

Nor, on the other hand, could it have been 
intended that I should apply the position when 
taken and proven, to the needs and responsi- 
bilities of the women of our race in the South. 
For is it -not written, " Cursed is he that 
cometh after the king?" and has not the King 
already preceded me in " The Black Woman 
of the South"?* 

They have had both Moses and the Proph- 
ets in Dr. Crummell and if they hear not him, 
neither would they be persuaded though one 
came up from the South. 

I would beg, however, with the Doctor's 
permission, to add my plea for the Colored 
Girls of the South : — that large, bright, prom- 
ising fatally beautiful class that stand shiver- 

* Pamphlet published by Dr. Alex. Crummell. 



THE SOUTH. 25 

ing like a delicate plantlet before the fury of 
tempestuous elements, so full of promise and 
possibilities, yet so sure of destruction ; often 
without a father to whom they dare apply the 
loving term, often without a stronger brother 
to espouse their cause and defend their honor 
with his life's blood ; in the midst of pitfalls 
and snares, waylaid by the lower classes of 
white men, with no shelter, no protection 
nearer than the great blue vault above, which 
half conceals and half reveals the one Care- 
Taker they know so little of. Oh, save them, 
help them, shield, train, develop, teach, inspire 
them ! Snatch them, in God's name, as brands 
from the burning ! There is material in them 
well worth your while, the hope in germ of a 
staunch, helpful, regenerating womanhood on 
which, primarily, rests the foundation stones 
of our future as a race. 

It is absurd to quote statistics showing the 
Negro's bank account and rent rolls, to point 
to the hundreds of newspapers edited by col- 
ored men and lists of lawyers, doctors, profes- 
sors, D. D's, LL D's, etc., etc., etc., while the 
source from which the life-blood of the race is 
to flow is subject to taint and corruption in the 
enemy's camp. 

True progress is never made by spasms. 



26 A VOICE FROM 

Real progress is growth. It must begin in the 
seed. Then, " first the blade, then the ear, 
after that the full corn in the ear." There is 
something to encourage and inspire us in the 
advancement of individuals since their eman- 
cipation from slavery. It at least proves that 
there is nothing irretrievably wrong in the 
shape of the black man's skull, and that under 
given circumstances his development, down- 
ward or upward, will be similar to that of 
other average human beings. 

But there is no time to be wasted in mere 
felicitation. That the N"egro has his niche in 
the infinite purposes of the Eternal, no one 
who has studied the history of the last fifty 
years in America will deny. That much de- 
pends on his own right comprehension of his 
responsibility and rising to the demands of the 
hour, it will be good for him to see ; and how 
best to use his present so that the structure of 
the future shall be stronger and higher and 
brighter and nobler and holier than that of the 
past, is a question to be decided each day by 
every one of us. 

The race is just twenty-one years removed 
from the conception and experience of a chat- 
tel, just at the age of ruddy manhood. It is 
well enough to pause a moment for retrospec- 



THE SOUTH. 27 

tion, introspection, and prospection. We look 
back, not to become inflated with conceit be- 
cause of the depths from which we have 
arisen, but that we may learn wisdom from 
experience. We look within that we may 
gather together once more our forces, and, by 
improved and more practical methods, address 
ourselves to the tasks before us. We look 
forward with hope and trust that the same 
God whose guiding hand led our fathers 
through and out of the gall and bitterness of 
oppression, will still lead and direct their child- 
ren, to the honor of His name, and for their 
ultimate salvation. 

But this survey of the failures or achiev- 
ments of the past, the difficulties and embar- 
rassments of the present, and the mingled 
hopes and fears for the future, must not de- 
generate into mere dreaming nor consume 
the time which belongs to the practical and 
effective handling of the crucial questions of 
the hour ; and there can be no issue more vital 
and momentous than this of the womanhood 
of the race. 

Here is the vulnerable point, not in the heel, 
but at the heart of the young Achilles ; and 
here must the defenses be strengthened and 
the watch redoubled. 



28 A VOICE FROM 

We are the heirs of a past which was not 
our fathers' moulding. " Every man the ar- 
biter of his own destiny " was not true for the 
American .Negro of the past : and it is no 
fault of his that he finds himself to-day the 
inheritor of a manhood and womanhood im- 
poverished and debased by two centuries and 
more of compression and degradation. 

But weaknesses and malformations, which 
to-day are attributable to a vicious schoolmas- 
ter and a pernicious system, will a century 
hence be rightly regarded as proofs of innate 
corruptness and radical incurability. 

Now the fundamental agency under God 
in the regeneration, the re-training of the race, 
as well as the ground work and starting point 
of its progress upward, must be the black 
woman. 

With all the wrongs and neglects of her 
past, with all the weakness, the debasement, 
the moral thralldom of her present, the black 
woman of to-day stands mute and wondering 
at the Herculean task devolving upon her. 
But the cycles wait for her. No other hand 
can move the lever. She must be loosed from 
her bands and set to work. 

Our meager and superficial results from past 
efforts prove their futility ; and every attempt 



THE SOUTH. 29 

to elevate the Negro, whether undertaken by 
himself or through the philanthropy of others, 
cannot but prove abortive unless so directed 
as to utilize the indispensable agency of an 
elevated and trained womanhood. 

A race cannot be purified from without. 
Preachers and teachers are helps, and stimu- 
lants and conditions as necessary as the 
gracious rain and sunshine are to plant growth. 
But what are rain and dew and sunshine and 
cloud if there be no life in the plant germ ? 
We must go to the root and see that that is 
sound and healthy and vigorous ; and not de- 
ceive ourselves with waxen flowers and painted 
leaves of mock chlorophyll. 

"We too often mistake individuals' honor 
for race development and so are ready to sub- 
stitute pretty accomplishments for sound sense 
and earnest purpose. 

A stream cannot rise higher than its source. 
The atmosphere of homes is no rarer and 
purer and sweeter than are the mothers in those 
homes. A race is but a total of families. The 
nation is the aggregate of its homes. As the 
whole is sum of all its parts, so the character 
of the parts will determine the characteristics 
of the whole. These are all axioms and so 
evident that it seems gratuitous to remark it ; 



30 A VOICE FROM 

and yet, unless I am greatly mistaken, most of 
the unsatisfaction from our past results arises 
from just such a radical and palpable error, as 
much almost on our own part as on that of 
our benevolent white friends. 

The Negro is constitutionally hopeful and 
proverbially irrepressible ; and naturally stands 
in danger of being dazzled by the shimmer 
and tinsel of superficials. We often mistake 
foliage for fruit and overestimate or wrongly 
estimate brilliant results. 

The late Martin R. Delany, who was an un- 
adulterated black man, used to say when 
honors of state fell upon him, that when he 
entered the council of kings the black race 
entered with him ; meaning, I suppose, that 
there was no discounting his race identity and 
attributing his achievements to some admix- 
ture of Saxon blood. But our present record 
. of eminent men, when placed beside the actual 
status of the race in America to-day, proves 
that no man can represent the race. What- 
ever the attainments of the individual may 
be, unless his home has moved on pari passu, 
he can never be regarded as identical with or 
representative of the whole. 

Not by pointing to sun-bathed mountain 
tops do we prove that Phoebus warms the val- 



THE SOUTH. 31 

leys. We must point to homes, average 
homes, homes of the rank and file of horny 
handed toiling men and women of the South 
(where the masses are) lighted and cheered by 
the good, the beautiful, and the true, — then 
and not till then will the whole plateau be 
lifted into the sunlight. 

Only the Black Woman can say "when and 
where I enter, in the quiet, undisputed digni- 
ty of my womanhood, without violence and 
without suing or special patronage, then and 
there the whole Negro race enters with me." 
Is it not evident then that as individual work- 
ers for this race we must address ourselves 
with no half-hearted zeal to this feature of our 
mission. The need is felt and must be recog- 
nized by all. There is a call for workers, for 
missionaries, for men and women with the 
double consecration of a fundamental love of 
humanitv and a desire for its melioration 
through the Gospel ; but superadded to this we 
demand an intelligent and sympathetic com- 
prehension of the interests and special needs 
of the Negro. 

I see not why there should not be an organ- 
ized effort for the protection and elevation of 
our girls such as the White Cross League in 
England. English women are strengthened 



32 A VOICE FROM 

and protected by more than twelve centuries 
of Christian influences, freedom and civiliza- 
tion ; English girls are dispirited and crushed 
down by no such all-levelling prejudice as that 
supercilious caste spirit in America which 
cynically assumes " A Negro woman cannot 
be a lady." English womanhood is beset by 
no such snares and traps as betray the unpro- 
tected, untrained colored girl of the South, 
whose only crime and dire destruction often is 
her unconscious and marvelous beauty. Sure- 
ly then if English indignation is aroused and 
English manhood thrilled under the leadership 
of a Bishop of the English church to build up 
bulwarks around their wronged sisters, Negro 
sentiment cannot remain callous and Negro 
effort nerveless in view of the imminent peril 
of the mothers of the next generation. " 1 
am. my Sister's keeper!" should be the hearty 
response of every man and woman of the race, 
and this conviction should purify and exalt the 
narrow, selfish and petty personal aims of life 
into a noble and sacred purpose. 

We need men who can let their interest and 
gallantry extend outside the circle of their 
aesthetic appreciation ; men who can be a fath- 
er, a brother, a friend to every weak, struggling 
unshielded girl. We need women who are so 



THE SOUTH. 33 

sure of their own social footing that they need 
not fear leaning to lend a hand to a fallen or 
falling sister. We need men and women who 
do not exhaust their genius splitting hairs on 
aristocratic distinctions and thanking God they 
are not as others ; but earnest, unselfish souls, 
who can go into the highways and byways, 
lifting up and leading, advising and encour- 
aging with the truly catholic benevolence of 
the Gospel of Christ. 

As Church workers we must confess our 
path of duty is less obvious ; or rather our abil- 
ity to adapt our machinery to our conception 
of the peculiar exigencies of this work as 
taught by experience and our own conscious- 
ness of the needs of the Negro, is as yet not 
demonstrable. Flexibility and aggressiveness 
are not such strong characteristics of the 
Church to-day as in the Dark Ages. 

As a Mission field for the Church the South- 
ern Negro is in some aspects most promising ; 
in others, perplexing. Aliens neither in lan- 
guage and customs, nor in associations and 
sympathies, naturally of deeply rooted religious 
instincts and taking most readily and kindly 
to the worship and teachings of the Church, 
surely the task of proselytizing the American 
Negro is infinitely less formidable than that 



34 A VOICE FROM 

which confronted the Church in the Barbarians 
of Europe. Besides, this people already look 
to the Church as the hope of their race. 
Thinking colored men almost uniformly admit 
that the Protestant Episcopal Church with its 
quiet, chaste dignity and decorous solemnity, 
its instructive and elevating ritual, its bright 
chanting and joyous hymning, is eminently 
fitted to correct the peculiar faults of worship 
— the rank exuberance and often ludicrous 
demonstrativeness of their people. Yet, 
strange to say, the Church, claiming to be 
missionary and Catholic, urging that schism 
is sin and denominationalism inexcusable, has 
made in all these years almost no inroads 
upon this semi-civilized religionism. 

Harvests from this over ripe field of home 
missions have been gathered in by Methodists, 
Baptists, and not least by Congregationalists, 
who were unknown to the Freedmen before 
their emancipation. 

Our clergy numbers less than two dozen* 
priests of Negro blood and we have hardly 
more than one self-supporting colored con- 
gregation in the entire Southland. "While the 
organization known as the A. M. E. Church 

*The published report of '91 shows 26 priests for the entire country, 
including one not engaged in work and one a professor in a non-sectarian 
school, since made Dean of an Episcopal Annex to Howard University 
known as King Hall. 



THE SOUTH. 35 

has 14,063 ministers, itinerant and local, 4,069 
self-supporting churches, 4,275 Sunday-schools, 
with property valued at $7,772,284, raising 
yearly for church purposes $1,427,000. 

Stranger and more significant than all, the 
leading men of this race (I do not mean dem- 
agogues and politicians, but men of intellect, 
heart, and race devotion, men to whom the 
elevation of their people means more than 
personal ambition and sordid gain — and the 
men of that stamp have not all died yet ) the 
Christian workers for the race, of younger and 
more cultured growth, are noticeably drifting 
into sectarian churches, many of them declar- 
ing all the time that they acknowledge the 
historic claims of the Church, believe her 
apostolicity, and would experience greater 
personal comfort, spiritual and intellectual, in 
her revered communion. It is a fact which 
any one may verify for himself, that represen- 
tative colored men, professing that in their 
heart of hearts they are Episcopalians, are 
actually working in Methodist and Baptist 
pulpits; while the ranks of the Episcopal 
clergy are left to be filled largely by men who 
certainly suggest the propriety of a u perpetual 
Diaconate " if they cannot be said to have 
created the necessity for it. 



36 A VOICE FROM 

Now where is the trouble? Something 
must be wrong. What is it ? 

A certain Southern Bishop of our Church 
reviewing the situation, whether in Godly 
anxiety or in " G-othic antipathy" I know 
not, deprecates the fact that the colored peo- 
ple do not seem drawn to the Episcopal Church, 
and comes to the sage conclusion that the 
Church is not adapted to the rude untutored 
minds of the Freedmen, and that they may be 
left to go to the Methodists and Baptists 
whither their racial proclivities undeniably 
tend. How the good Bishop can agree that 
all-foreseeing Wisdom, and Catholic Love 
would have framed his Church as typified in 
his seamless garment and unbroken body, and 
yet not leave it broad enough and deep enough 
and loving enough to seek and save and hold 
seven millions of God's poor, I cannot see. 

But the doctors while discussing their scien- 
tifically conclusive diagnosis of the disease, 
will perhaps not think it presumptuous in the 
patient if he dares to suggest where at least 
the pain is. If this be allowed, a Black woman 
of the South would beg to point out two possi- 
ble oversights in this southern work which 
may indicate in part both a cause and a rem- 
edy for some failure. The first is not calcula- 



THE SOUTH. 37 

ting for the Black man's personality ; not hav- 
ing respect, if I may so express it, to his man- 
hood or deterring at all to his conceptions of 
the needs of his people. When colored per- 
sons have been employed it was too often as 
machines or as manikins. There has been no 
disposition, generally, to get the black man's 
ideal or to let his individuality work by its 
own gravity, as it were. A conference of 
earnest Christian men have met at regular 
intervals for some years past to discuss the 
best methods of promoting the welfare and 
development of colored people in this country. 
Yet, strange as it may seem, they have never 
invited a colored man or even intimated that 
one would be welcome to take part in their 
deliberations. Their remedial contrivances 
are purely theoretical or empirical, therefore, 
and the whole machinery devoid of soul. 

The second important oversight in my judg- 
ment is closely allied to this and probably 
grows out of it, and that is not developing 
Negro womanhood as an essential fundamen- 
tal for the elevation of the race, and utilizing 
this agency in extending the work of the 
Church. 

Of the first I have possibly already presumed 
to say too much since it does not strictly come 



38 A VOICE FROM 

within the province of my subject. However, 
Macaulay somewhere criticises the Church of 
England as not knowing how to use fanatics, 
and declares that had Ignatius Loyola been in 
the Anglican instead of the Roman commun- 
ion, the Jesuits would have been schismatics 
instead of Catholics ; and if the religious 
awakenings of the Wesleys had been in Rome, 
she would have shaven their heads, tied ropes 
around their waists, and sent them out under 
her own banner and blessing. Whether this 
be true or not, there is certainly a vast amount 
of force potential for Negro evangelization 
rendered latent, or worse, antagonistic by the 
halting, uncertain, I had almost said, trimming 
policy of the Church in the South. This may 
sound both presumptuous and ungrateful. It 
is mortifying, I know, to benevolent wisdom, 
after having spent itself in the execution of 
well conned theories for the ideal development 
of a particular work, to hear perhaps the 
weakest and humblest element of that work 
asking " what doest thou ? " 

Yet so it will be in life. The " thus far and 
no farther " pattern cannot be fitted to any 
growth in God's kingdom. The universal 
law of development is " onward and upward." 
It is God-given and inviolable. From the 



THE SOUTH. 39 

unfolding of the germ in the acorn to reach 
the sturdy oak, to the growth of a human 
soul into the full knowledge and likeness of 
its Creator, the breadth and scope of the 
movement in each and all are too grand, too 
mysterious, too like God himself, to be en- 
compassed and locked down in human molds. 

After all the Southern slave owners were 
right : either the very alphabet of intellectual 
growth must be forbidden and the Negro 
dealt with absolutely as a chattel having 
neither rights nor sensibilities ; or else the 
clamps and irons of mental and moral, as well 
as civil compression must be riven asunder 
and the truly enfranchised soul led to the en- 
trance of that boundless vista through which 
it is to toil upwards to its beckoning God as 
the buried seed germ to meet the sun. 

A perpetual colored diaconate, carefully 
and kindly superintended by the white clergy ; 
congregations of shiny faced peasants with 
their clean white aprons and sunbonnets cate- 
chised at regular intervals and taught to re- 
cite the creed, the Lord's -prayer and the ten 
commandments — duty towards God and duty 
towards neighbor, surely such well tended 
sheep ought to be grateful to their shepherds 
and content in that station of life to which it 



40 A VOICE FROM 

pleased God to call them. True, like the old 
professor lecturing to his solitary student, we 
make no provision here for irregularities. 
" Questions must be kept till after class," or 
dispensed with altogether. That some do ask 
questions and insist on answers, in class too, 
must be both impertinent and annoying. Let 
not our spiritual pastors and masters however 
be grieved at such self-assertion as merely signi- 
fies we have a destiny to fulfill and as men and 
women we must be about our Father's business. 
It is a mistake to suppose that the Negro is 
prejudiced against a white ministry. Natur- 
ally there is not a more kindly and implicit 
follower of a white man's guidance than the 
average colored peasant. What would to 
others be an ordinary act of friendly or pas- 
toral interest he would be more inclined to 
regard gratefully as a condescension. And 
he never forgets such kindness. Could the 
Negro be brought near to his white priest or 
bishop, he is not suspicious. He is not only 
willing but often longs to unburden his soul 
to this intelligent guide. There are no reser- 
vations when he is convinced that you are his 
friend. It is a saddening satire on American 
history and manners that it takes something 
to convince him. 



THE SOUTH. 41 

That our people are not " drawn " to a 
church whose chief dignitaries they see only 
in the chancel, and whom they reverence as 
they would a painting or an angel, whose life 
never comes down to and touches theirs with 
the inspiration of an objective reality, may be 
" perplexing " truly ( American caste and 
American Christianity both being facts) but 
it need not be surprising. There must be 
something of human nature in it, the same as 
that which brought about that " the Word 
was made flesh and dwelt among us" that 
He might " draw " us towards God. 

Men are not " drawn " by abstractions. 
Only sympathy and love can draw, and until 
our Church in America realizes this and pro- 
vides a clergy that can come in touch with 
our life and have a fellow feeling for our woes, 
without being imbedded and frozen up in 
their " Gothic antipathies," the good bishops 
are likely to continue " perplexed " by the 
sparsity of colored Episcopalians. 

A colored priest of my acquaintance recent- 
ly related to me, with tears in his eyes, how 
his reverend Father in God, the Bishop who 
had ordained him, had met him on the cars 
on his way to the diocesan convention and 
warned him, not unkindly, not to take a seat 



42 A VOICE FROM 

in the body of the convention with the white 
clergy. To avoid disturbance of their godly 
placidity he would of cource please sit back 
and somewhat apart. I do not imagine that 
that clergyman had very much heart for the 
Christly (!) deliberations of that convention. 

To return, however, it is not on this broader 
view of Church work, which I mentioned as a 
primary cause of its halting progress with the 
colored people, that I am to speak. My pro- 
per theme is the second oversight of which in 
my judgment our Christian propagandists 
have been guilty : or, the necessity of church 
training, protecting and uplifting our colored 
womanhood as indispensable to the evangeli- 
zation of the race. 

Apelles did not disdain even that criticism 
of his lofty art which came from an uncouth 
cobbler ; and may I not hope that the writer's 
oneness with her subject both in feeling and in 
being may palliate undue obtrusiveness of 
opinions here. That the race cannot be effect- 
ually lifted up till its women are truly elevated 
we take as proven. It is not for us to dwell 
on the needs, the neglects, and the ways of 
succor, pertaining to the black woman of the 
South. The ground has been ably discussed 
and an admirable and practical plan proposed 



THE SOUTH. 43 

by the oldest Negro priest in America, advis- 
ing and urging that special organizations such 
as Church Sisterhoods and industrial schools 
be devised to meet her pressing needs in the 
Southland. That some such movements are 
vital to the life of this people and the exten- 
sion of the Church among them, is not hard 
to see. Yet the pamphlet fell still-born from 
the press. So far as I am informed the Church 
has made no motion towards carrying out Dr. 
Crummeirs suggestion. 

The denomination which comes next our 
own in opposing the proverbial emotionalism 
of Negro worship in the South, and which in 
consequence like ours receives the cold shoul- 
der from the old heads, resting as we do under 
the charge of not " having religion " and not 
believing in conversion — the Congregational- 
ists — have quietly gone to work on the young, 
have established industrial and training schools, 
and now almost every community in the 
South is yearly enriched by a fresh infusion 
of vigorous young hearts, cultivated heads, 
and helpful hands that have been trained at 
Fisk, at Hampton, in Atlanta University, and 
in Tuskegee, Alabama. 

These young people are missionaries actual 
or virtual both here and in Africa. They 



44 A VOICE FROM 

have learned to love the methods and doctrines 
of the Church which trained and educated 
them ; and so Congregationalism surely and 
steadily progresses. 

Need I compare these well known facts 
with results shown by the Church in the same 
field and during the same or even a longer 
time. 

The institution of the Church in the South 
to which she mainly looks for the training of 
her colored clergy and for the help of the 
" Black Woman " and " Colored Girl " of the 
South, has graduated since the year 1868, when 
the school was founded,7^e young women ;* and 
while yearly numerous young men have been 
kept and trainedforthe ministry by the charities 
of the Church, the number of indigent females 
who have here been supported, sheltered and 
trained, is phenomenally small. Indeed, to 
my mind, the attitude of the Church toward 
this feature of her work is as if the solution of 
the problem of Negro missions depended solely 
on sending a quota of deacons and priests into 
the field, girls being a sort of tertium quid whose 
development may be promoted if they can 
pay their way and fall in with the plans 
mapped out for the training of the other sex. 

*Five have been graduated since '86, two in '91, two in '92. 



THE SOUTH. 45 

Now I would ask in all earnestness, does not 
this force potential deserve by education and 
stimulus to be made dynamic? Is it not a 
solemn duty incumbent on all colored church- 
men to make it so ? Will not the aid of 
the Church be given to prepare our girls in 
head, heart, and hand for the duties and re- 
sponsibilities that await the intelligent wife, 
the Christian mother, the earnest, virtuous, 
helpful woman, at once both the lever and 
the fulcrum for uplifting the race. 

As- Negroes and churchmen we cannot be 
indifferent to these questions. They touch us 
most vitally on both sides. We believe in the 
Holy Catholic Church. We believe that how- 
ever gigantic and apparently remote the con- 
summation, the Church will go on conquering 
and to conquer till the kingdoms of this 
world, not excepting the black man and the 
black woman of the South, shall have become 
the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Christ. 

That past work in this direction has been 
unsatisfactory we must admit. That without 
a change of policy results in the future will 
be as meagre, we greatly fear. Our life as a 
race is at stake. The dearest interests of our 
hearts are in the scales. We must either 
break away from dear old landmarks and 



46 A VOICE FROM 

plunge out in any line and every line that en- 
ables us to meet the pressing need of our peo- 
ple, or we must ask the Church to allow stad 
help us, untrammelled by the prejudices and 
theories of individuals, to work agressively 
under her direction as we alone can, with God's 
help, for the salvation of our people. 

The time is ripe for action. Self-seeking 
and ambition must be laid on the altar. The 
battle is one of sacrifice and hardship, but our 
duty is plain. We have been recipients of 
missionary bounty in some sort for twenty- 
one years. Not even the senseless vegetable 
is content to be a mere reservoir. Receiving 
without giving is an anomaly in nature. 
Nature's cells are all little workshops for manu- 
facturing sunbeams, the product to be given 
out to earth's inhabitants in warmth, energy, 
thought, action. Inanimate creation always 
pays back an equivalent. 

Now, How much oioest thou my Lord 1 ? Will 
his account be overdrawn if he call for single- 
ness of purpose and self-sacrificing labor for 
your brethren ? Having passed through your 
drill school, will you refuse a general's com- 
mission even if it entail responsibility, risk 
and anxiety, with possibly some adverse criti- 
cism ? Is it too much to ask you to step for- 



THE SOUTH. 47 

ward and direct the work for your race along 
those lines which yon know to be of first and 
vital importance ? 

Will you allow these words of Ralph Waldo 
Emerson ? " In ordinary/' says he, " we have 
a snappish criticism- which watches and con- 
tradicts the opposite party. We want the 
will which advances and dictates [acts]. 
Nature has made up her mind that what can- 
not defend itself, shall not be defended. Com- 
plaining never so loud and with never so 
much reason, is of no use. What cannot 
stand must fall ; and the measure of our sincer- 
ity and therefore of the respect of men is the 
amount of health and, wealth we will hazard in 
the defense of our right" 



48 A VOICE FROM 



THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN 



N the very first year of our century, the year 
1801, there appeared in Paris a book by 
Silvain Marechal, entitled " Shall Woman 
Learn the Alphabet." The book proposes a 
law prohibiting the alphabet to women, and 
quotes authorities weighty and various, to 
prove that the woman who knows the alpha- 
bet has already lost part of her womanliness. 
The author declares that woman can use the 
alphabet only as Moliere predicted they would, 
in spelling out the verb amo; that they have 
no occasion to peruse Ovid's Ars Amoris, since 
that is .already the ground and limit of their 
intuitive furnishing; that Madame Guion 
would have been far more adorable had she 
remained a beautiful ignoramus as nature 
made her; that Ruth, Naomi, the Spartan 
woman, the Amazons, Penelope, Andromache, 
Lucretia, Joan of Arc, Petrarch's Laura, the 
daughters of Charlemagne, could not spell 



THE SOUTH. 49 

their names; while Sappho, Aspasia, Madame 
de Maintenon, and Madame de Stael could 
read altogether too well tor their good; finally, 
that if women were once permitted to read 
Sophocles and work with logarithms, or to 
nibble at any side of the apple of knowledge, 
there would be an end forever to their sewing 
on buttons and embroidering slippers. 

Please remember this book was published 
at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century. 
At the end of its first third, (in the year 1833) 
one solitary college in America decided to ad- 
mit women within its sacred precincts, and 
organized what was called a "Ladies' 
Course" as well as the regular B. A. or Gen- 
tlemen's course. 

It was felt to be an experiment — a rather dan- 
gerous experiment — and was adopted with 
fear and trembling by the good fathers, who 
looked as if they had been caught se- 
cretly mixing explosive compounds and were 
guiltily expecting every moment to see the 
foundations under them shaken and rent and 
their fair superstructure shattered into frag- 
ments. 

But the girls came, and there was no up- 
heaval. They performed their tasks modestly 
and intelligently. Once in a while one or two 



50 A VOICE FROM 

were found choosing the gentlemen's course. 
Still no collapse ; and the dear, careful, scrupu- 
lous, frightened old professors were just get- 
ting their hearts out of their throats and pre- 
paring to draw one good free breath, when 
they found they would have to change the 
names of those courses ; for there were as 
many ladies in the gentlemen's course as in 
the ladies', and a distinctively Ladies' Course, 
inferior in scope and aim to. the regular classi- 
cal course, did not and could not exist. 

Other colleges gradually fell into line, and 
to-day there are one hundred and ninety- 
eight colleges for women, and two hundred 
and seven coeducational colleges and universi- 
ties in the United States alone ottering the 
degree of B. A. to women, and sending out 
yearly into the arteries of this nation a warm, 
rich flood of strong, brave, active, energetic, 
well- equipped, thoughtful women — women 
quick to see and eager to help the needs of 
this needy world — women who can think as 
well as feel, and who feel none the less because 
they think — women who are none the less 
tender and true for the parchment scroll they 
bear in their hands — women who have given 
a deeper, richer, nobler and grander meaning 
to the word "womanly" than any one-sided 



THE SOUTH. 51 

masculine definition could ever have suggested 
or inspired — women whom the world has long 
waited for in pain and anguish till there should 
be at last added to its forces and allowed to 
permeate its thought the complement of that 
masculine influence which has dominated it for 
fourteen centuries. 

Since the idea of order and subordination 
succumbed to barbarian brawn and brutality 
in 'the fifth century, the civilized world has 
been like a child brought up by his father. It 
has needed the great mother heart to teach it 
to be pitiful, to love mercy, to succor the weak 
and care for the lowly. 

Whence came this apotheosis of greed and 
cruelty ? Whence this sneaking admiration 
we all have for bullies and prize-fighters? 
Whence the self -congratulation of "dominant' 5 
races, as if "dominant" meant "righteous" 
and carried with it a title to inherit the earth? 
Whence the scorn of so-called weak or un- 
warlike races and individuals, and the very 
comfortable assurance that it is their manifest 
destiny to be wiped out as vermin before this 
advancing civilization ? As if the possession 
of the Christian graces of meekness, non-re- 
sistance and forgiveness, were incompatible 
with a civilization professedly based on 



52 A VOICE FROM 

Christianity, the religion of love ! Just listen 
to this little bit of Barbarian brag : 

"As for Far Orientals, they are not of those who will sur- 
vive. Artistic attractive people that they are, their civiliza- 
tion is like their own tree flowers, beautiful blossoms des" 
tined never to bear fruit. If these people continue in their 
old course, their earthly career is closed. Just as surely as 
morning passes into afternoon, so surely are these races of 
the Far East, if unchanged, destined to disappear before the 
advancing nations of the West. Vanish, they will, off the 
face of the earth, and leave our planet the eventual posses, 
sion of the dwellers where the day declines. Unless their 
newly imported ideas really take root, it is from this whole 
world that Japanese and Koreans, as well as Chinese, will 
inevitably be excluded. Their Nirvana is already being re- 
alized ; already, it has wrapped Far Eastern Asia in its 
winding sheet. " — Soul of the Far East — P. Lowell. 

Delightful reflection for "the dwellers where 
day declines." A spectacle to make the gods 
laugh, truly, to see the scion of an upstart 
race by one sweep of his generalizing pen con- 
signing to annihilation one-third the inhab- 
itants oi the globe — a people whose civiliza- 
tion was hoary headed before the parent ele- 
ments that begot his race had advanced be- 
yond nebulosity. 

How like Longfellow's Iagoo,'we Westerners 
are, to be sure ! In the few hundred years, 
we have had to strut across our allotted terri- 
tory and bask in the afternoon sun, we im- 



THE SOUTH. 53 

agine we have exhausted the possibilities of 
humanity. Verily, we are the people, and 
after us there is none other. Our God is power ; 
strength, our standard of excellence, inherited 
from barbarian ancestors through a long line 
of male progenitors, the Law Salic permitting 
no feminine modifications. 

Says one, "The Chinaman is not popular 
with us, and we do not like the Negro. It is 
not that the eyes of the one are set bias, and 
the other is dark-skinned; but the Chinaman, 
the Negro is weak — and Anglo Saxons don't 
like weakness" 

The world of thought under the predom- 
inant man-influence, unmollified and unre- 
strained by its complementary force, would 
become like Daniel's fourth beast : "dreadful 
and terrible, and strong exceedingly ;" "it had 
great iron teeth; it devoured and brake in 
pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet 
of it;" and the most independent of us find 
ourselves readv at times to fall down and wor- 
ship this incarnation of power. 

Mrs. Mary A. Livermore, a woman whom I 
can mention only to admire, came near shak- 
ing my faith a few weeks ago in my theory 
of the thinking woman's mission to put in the 
tender and sympathetic chord in nature's 



54 A VOICE FROM 

grand symphony, and counteract, or better, 
harmonize the diapason of mere strength and 
might. 

She was dwelling on the Anglo-Saxon 
genius for power and his contempt for weak- 
ness, and described a scene in San Francisco 
which she had witnessed. 

The incorrigible animal known as the 
American small-boy, had pounced upon a 
simple, unoffending Chinaman, who was tak- 
ing home his work, and had emptied the 
beautifully laundried contents of his basket 
into the ditch. "And," said she, "when that 
great man stood there and blubbered before 
that crowd of lawless urchins, to any one of 
whom he might have taught a lesson with his 
two fists, I didn't much care. 

This is said like a man ! It grates harshly. 
It smacks of the worship of the beast. It is 
contempt for weakness, and taken out of its 
setting it seems to contradict my theory. It 
either shows that one of the highest exponents 
of the Higher Education can be at times un- 
true to the instincts I have ascribed to the 
thinking woman and to the contribution she 
is to add to the civilized world, or else the in- 
fluence she wields upon our civilization may 
be potent without being necessarily and al- 



THE SOUTH. 55 

ways direct and conscious. The latter is the 
case. Her voice may strike a false note, but 
her whole being is musical with the vibrations 
of human suffering. Her tongue may parrot 
over the cold conceits that some man has 
taught her, but her heart is aglow with sym- 
pathy and loving kindness, and she cannot be 
true to her real self without giving out these 
elements into the forces of the world. 

No one is in any danger of imagining Mark 
Antony " a plain blunt man," nor Cassius a 
sincere one — whatever the speeches they may 
make. 

As individuals, we are constantly and inev- 
itably, whether we are conscious of it or not, 
giving out our real selves into onr several lit- 
tle worlds, inexorably adding our own true 
ray to the flood of starlight, quite independent- 
ly of our professions and our masquerading ; 
and so in the world of thought, the influence 
of thinking woman far transcends her feeble 
declamation and may seem at times even op- 
posed to it. 

A visitor in Oberlin once said to the lady 
principal, " Have you no rabble in Oberlin ? 
How is it I see no police here, and yet the streets 
are as quiet and orderly as if there were an 
officer of the law standing on every corner." 



56 A VOICE FROM 

Mrs. Johnston replied, " Oh, yes; there are 
vicious persons in Oberlin just as in other 
towns — but our girls are our police" 

With from five to ten hundred pure-minded 
young women threading the streets of the 
village every evening unattended, vice must 
slink away, like frost before the rising sun : 
and yet I venture to say there was not one in 
a hundred of those girls who would not have 
run from a street brawl as she would from a 
mouse, and who would not have declared she 
could never stand the sight of blood and 
pistols. 

There is, then, a real and special influence of 
woman. An influence subtle and often invol- 
untary, an influence so intimately interwoven 
in, so intricately interpenetrated by the mascu- 
line influence of the time that it is often diffi- 
cult to extricate the delicate meshes and 
analyze and identify the closely clinging fibers. 
And yet, without this influence — so long as 
woman sat with bandaged eyes and manacled 
hands, fast bound in the clamps ot ignorance 
and inaction, the world of thought moved in 
its orbit like the revolutions of the moon ; 
with one face (the man's face) always out, so 
that the spectator could not distinguish 
whether it was disc or sphere. 



THE SOUTH. 57 

Now I claim that it is the prevalence of the 
Higher Education among women, the making 
it a common everyday affair for women to 
reason and think and express their thought, 
the training and stimulus which enable and 
encourage women to administer to the world 
the bread it needs as well as the sugar it cries 
for ; in short it is the transmitting the poten- 
tial forces of her soul into dynamic factors 
that has given symmetry and completeness 
to the world's agencies. So only could it be 
consummated that Mercy, the . lesson she 
teaches, and Truth, the task man has set him- 
self, should meet together : that righteousness, 
or Tightness, man's ideal, — and peace, its neces- 
sary ' other half/ should kiss each other. 

We must thank the general enlightenment 
and independence of woman (which we may 
now regard as a fait accompli) that both these 
forces are now at work in the world, and it is 
fair to demand from them for the twentieth 
century a higher type of civilization than any 
attained in the nineteenth. Religion, science, 
art, economics, have all needed the feminine 
flavor ; and literature, the expression of what 
is permanent and best in all of these, may be 
guaged at any time to measure the strength 
of the feminine ingredient. You will not find 



58 A VOICE FROM 

theology consigning infants to lakes of un- 
quenchable fire long after women have had a 
chance to grasp, master, and wield its dogmas. 
You will not find science annihilating person- 
ality from the government of the Universe 
and making of G-od an ungovernable, unintel- 
ligible, blind, often destructive physical force ; 
you will not find jurisprudence formulating 
as an axiom the absurdity that man and wife 
are one, and that one the man — that the mar- 
ried woman may not hold or bequeath her 
own property save as subject to her husband's 
direction ; you will not find political econo- 
mists declaring that the only possible adjust- 
ment between laborers and capitalists is that 
of selfishness and rapacity — that each must 
get all he can and keep all that he gets, while 
the world cries laissez /aire and the lawyers 
explain, " it is the beautiful working of the 
law of supply and demand; " in fine, you will 
not find the law of love shut out from the af- 
fairs of men after the feminine half of the 
world's truth is completed. 

Nay, put your ear now close to the pulse of 
the'time. What is the key-note of the litera- 
ture of these days ? What is the banner cry 
of all the activities of the last half decade ? 
What is the dominant seventh which is to add 



THE SOUTH. 59 

richness and tone to the final cadences of this 
century and lead by a grand modulation into 
the triumphant harmonies of the next ? Is it 
not compassion for the poor and unfortunate, 
and, as Bellamy has expressed it, " indignant 
outcry against the failure of the social 
machinery as it is, to ameliorate the miseries 
of men ! " Even Christianity is being brought 
to the bar of humanity and tried by th e stand- 
ard of its ability to alleviate the world's suf- 
fering and lighten and brighten its woe. What 
else can be the meaning of Matthew Arnold's 
saddening protest, ■" We cannot do without 
Christianity," cried he, " and we cannot en- 
dure it as it is." 

When went there by an age, when so much 
time and thought, so much money and labor 
were given to God's poor and Grod's invalids, 
the lowly and unlovely, the sinning as well as 
the suffering — homes for inebriates and homes 
for lunatics, shelter for the aged and shelter 
for babes, hospitals for the sick, props and 
braces for the falling, reformatory prisons and 
prison reformatories, all show that a " mother- 
ing " influence from some source is leavening 
the nation. 

Now please understand me. I do not ask 
you to admit that these benefactions and vir- 



60 A VOICE FROM 

tues are the exclusive possession of women, or 
even that women are their chief and only ad- 
vocates. It may be a man who formulates 
and makes them vocal. It may be, and often 
is, a man who weeps over the wrongs and 
struggles for the amelioration : but that man 
has imbibed those impulses from a mother 
rather than from a father and is simply 
materializing and giving back to the world 
in tangible form the ideal love and tenderness, 
devotion and care that have cherished and 
nourished the helpless period of his own ex- 
istence. 

All 1 claim is that there is a feminine as 
well as a masculine side to truth ; that these are 
related not as inferior and superior, not as 
better and worse, not as weaker and stronger, 
but as complements — complements in one 
necessary and symmetric whole. That as the 
man is more noble in reason, so the woman is 
more quick in sympathy. That as he is inde- 
fatigable in pursuit of abstract truth, so is she 
in caring for the interests by the way — striv- 
ing tenderly and lovingly that not one of the 
least of these 'little ones' should perish. That 
while we not unfrequently see women who 
reason, we say, with the coolness and precision 
of a man, and men as considerate of helpless- 



THE SOUTH. 61 

ness as a woman, still there is a general con- 
sensus of mankind that the one trait is essen- 
tially masculine and the other as peculiarly 
feminine. That both are needed to be worked 
into the training of children, in order that our 
boys may supplement their virility by tender- 
ness and sensibility, and our girls may round 
out their gentleness by strength and self-reli- 
ance. That, as both are alike necessary in 
giving symmetry to the individual, so a nation 
or a race will degenerate into mere emotion- 
alism on the one hand, or bullyism on the 
other, if dominated by either exclusively; 
lastly, and most emphatically, that the femin- 
ine factor can have its proper effect only 
through woman's development and education 
so that she may fitly and intelligently stamp 
her force on the forces of her day, and add her 
modicum to the riches of the world's thought. 

"For woman's cause is man's: they rise or sink 

Together, dwarfed or godlike, bond or free : 

For she that out of Lethe scales with man 

The shining steps of nature, shares with man 

His nights, his days, moves with him to one goal. 

If she be small, slight-natured, miserable, 

How shall men grow ? 

* * * Let her make herself her own 

To give or keep, to live and learn and be 

All that not harms distinctive womanhood. 

For woman is not undeveloped man 



(32 A VOICE FROM 

But diverse : could we make her as the man 

Sweet love were slain ; his dearest bond is this, 

Not like to like, but like in difference. 

Yet in the long years liker must they grow ; 

The man be more of woman, she of man ; 

He gain in sweetness and in moral height, 

Nor lose the wrestling thews that throw the world ; 

She mental breadth, nor fail in childward care, 

Nor lose the childlike in the larger mind; 

Till at the last she set herself to man, 

Like perfect music unto noble words." 

Now you will argue, perhaps, and rightly, 
that higher education for women is not a 
modern idea, and that, if that is the means of 
setting free and invigorating the long desired 
feminine force in the world, it has already 
had a trial and should, in the past, have pro- 
duced some of these glowing effects. Sappho, 
the bright, sweet singer of Lesbos, " the violet- 
crowned, pure, sweetly smiling Sappho" as 
Alcaeus calls her, chanted her lyrics and 
poured forth her soul nearly six centuries be- 
fore Christ, in notes as full and free, as pas- 
sionate and eloquent as did ever Archilochus 
or Anacreon. 

Aspasia, that earliest queen of the drawing- 
room, a century later ministered to the intel- 
lectual entertainment of Socrates and the 
leading wits and philosophers of her time. 
Indeed, to her is attributed, by the best critics, 



THE SOUTH. 63 

the authorship of one of the most noted 
speeches ever delivered by Pericles. 

Later on, during the Renaissance period, 
women were professors in mathematics, phy- 
sics, metaphysics, and the classic languages in 
Bologna, Pavia, Padua, and Brescia. Olympia 
Fulvia Morata, of Perrara, a most interesting 
character, whose magnificent library was de- 
stroyed in 1553 in the invasion of Schweinfurt 
by Albert of Brandenburg, had acquired a most 
extensive education. It is said that this won- 
derful girl gave lectures on classical subjects 
in her sixteenth year, and had even before 
that written several very remarkable Greek 
and Latin poems, and what is also to the 
point, she married a professor at Heidelberg, 
and became a help-meet for him. 

It is true then that the higher education for 
women — in fact, the highest that the world 
has ever witnessed — belongs to the past ; but 
we must remember that it was possible, down to 
the middle of our own century, only to a select 
few; and that the fashions and traditions of 
the times were before that all against it. There 
were not only no stimuli to encourage women 
to make the most of their powers and to wel- 
come their development as a helpful agency 
in the progress of civilization, but their little 



64 A VOICE FROM 

aspirations, when they had any, were chilled 
and snubbed in embryo, and any attempt at 
thought was received as a monstrous usurpa- 
tion of man's prerogative. 

Lessing declared that a the woman who 
thinks is like the man who puts on rouge — 
ridiculous ;" and Voltaire in his coarse, flip- 
pant way used to say, "Ideas are like beards 
— women and boys have none." Dr. Maginn 
remarked, " We like to hear a few words of 
sense from a woman sometimes, as we do 
from a parrot — they are so unexpected !" and 
even the pious Fenelon taught that virgin 
delicacy is almost as incompatible with learn : 
ing as with vice. 

That the average woman retired before 
these shafts of wit and ridicule and even 
gloried in her ignorance is not surprising. 
The Abbe Choisi, it is said, praised the Duch- 
esse de Pontanges as being pretty as an angel 
and silly as a goose, and all the young ladies 
of the court strove to make up in folly what 
they lacked in charms. The ideal of the day 
was that "women must be pretty, dress 
prettily, flirt prettily, and not be too well in- 
formed;" that it was the summum honum of 
her earthly hopes to have, as Thackeray puts 
it, "all the fellows battling to dance with 



THE SOUTH. 65 

her ;" that she had no God-given destiny, no 
soul with unquenchable longings and inex- 
haustible possibilities — no work of her own to 
do and give to the world — no absolute and in- 
herent value, no duty to self, transcending all 
pleasure-giving that may be demanded of a 
mere toy; but that her value was purely a 
relative one and to be estimated as are the fine 
arts — by the pleasure they give. "Woman, 
wine and song," as "the world's best gifts to 
man," were linked together in praise with as 
little thought of the first saying, "What doest 
thou," as that the wine and the song should 
declare, "We must be about our Father's 
business." 

Men believed, or pretended to believe, that 
the great law of self development was obli- 
gatory on their half of the human family 
only ; that while it was the chief end of man 
to glorify God and put his five talents to the 
exchangers, gaining thereby other five, it was, 
or ought to be, the sole end of woman to glorify 
man and wrap her one decently away in a 
napkin, retiring into "Xiezekiah Smith's lady 
during her natural life and Hezekiah Smith's 
relict on her tombstone ;" that higher educa- 
tion was incompatible with the shape of the 
female cerebrum, and that even if it could be 



66 A VOICE FROM 

acquired it must inevitably unsex woman de- 
stroying the lisping, clinging, tenderly help- 
less, and beautifully dependent creatures whom 
men would so heroically think for and so gal- 
lantly fight for, and giving in their stead a 
formidable race of blue stockings with cork- 
screw ringlets and other spinster propensities. 

But these are eighteenth century ideas. 

We have seen how the pendulum has swung 
across our present century. The men of our 
time have asked with Emerson, "that woman 
only show us how she can best be served ;" 
and woman has replied : the chance of the 
seedling and of the animalcule is all I ask — 
the chance for growth and self development, 
the permission to be true to the aspirations of 
my soul without incurring the blight of your 
censure and ridicule. 

"Audetque viris concurrere virgo." 

In soul-culture woman at last dares to con- 
tend with men, and we may cite Grant Allen 
(who certainly cannot be suspected of advo- 
cating the unsexing of woman) as an example 
of the broadening effect of this contest on the 
ideas at least of the men of the day. He says 
in his Plain Words on the Woman Question, 
recently published : 



THE SOUTH. 67 

"The position of woman was not [in the 
[a past position which could bear the test of 
nineteenth-century scrutiny. Their educa- 
tion was inadequate, their social status was 
humiliating, their political power was nil, 
their practical and personal grievances were 
innumerable ; above all, their relations to the 
family — to their husbands, their children, 
their friends, their property — was simply in- 
supportable." 

And again : "As a body we 'Advanced 
men' are, I think, prepared to reconsider, and 
to reconsider fundamentally, without preju- 
dice or misconception, the entire question of 
the relation betwen the sexes. We are ready 
to make any modifications in those relations 
which will satisfy the woman's just aspiration 
for personal independence, for intellectual and 
moral development, for physical culture, for 
political activity, and for a voice in the ar- 
rangement of her own affairs, both domestic 
and nationaL" 

Now this is magnanimous enough, surely; 
and quite a step from eighteenth century 
preaching, is it not? The higher education 
of Woman has certainly developed the men ; 
— let us see what it has done for the women. 

Matthew Arnold during his last visit to 



68 A VOICE FROM 

America in '82 or '83, lectured before a certain 
co-educational college in the West. After the 
lecture he remarked, with some surprise, to a 
lady professor, that the young women in his 
audience, he noticed, paid as close attention 
as the men, all the way through" This led, of 
course, to a spirited discussion of the higher 
education for women, during which he said to 
his enthusiastic interlocutor, eyeing her philo- 
sophically through his English eyeglass : "But 
— eh — don't you think it — eh — spoils their 
chaionces, you know !" 

Now, as to the result to women, this is the 
most serious argument ever used against the 
higher education. If it interferes with mar- 
riage, classical training has a grave objection 
to weigh and answer. 

For I agree with Mr. Allen at least on this 
one point, that there must be marrying and 
giving in marriage even till the end of time. 

I grant you that intellectual development, 
with the self-reliance and capacity for earning 
a livelihood which it gives, renders woman 
less dependent on the marriage relation for 
physical support (which, by the way, does not 
always accompany it). Neither is she com- 
pelled to look to sexual love as the one sensa- 
tion capable of giving tone and relish, move- 



THE SOUTH. 69 

ment and vim to the life she leads. Her hor- 
ison is extended. Her sympathies are broad- 
ened and deepened and multiplied. She is in 
closer touch with nature. Not a bud that 
opens, not a dew drop, not a ray of light, not 
a cloud-burst or a thunderbolt, but adds to 
the expansiveness and zest of her soul. And 
if the sun of an absorbing passion be gone 
down, still 'tis night that brings the stars. 
She has remaining the mellow, less obtrusive, 
but none the less enchanting and inspiring 
light of friendship, and into its charmed circle 
she may gather the best the world has known. 
She can commune with Socrates about the 
daimon he knew and to which she too can 
bear witness; she can revel in the majesty of 
Dante, the sweetness of Virgil, the simplicity 
of Homer, the strength of Milton. She can 
listen to the pulsing heart throbs of passion- 
ate Sappho's encaged soul, as she beats her 
bruised wings against her prison bars and 
struggles to flutter out into Heaven's aether, 
and the fires of her own soul cry back as she 
listens. " Yes ; Sappho, I know it all ; I know 
it all." Here, at last, can be communion 
without suspicion; friendship without misun- 
derstanding; love without jealousy. 

We must admit then that Byron's picture, 



70 A VOICE FROM 

whether a thing of beauty or not, has faded 
from the canvas of to-day. 

"Man's love," he wrote, "is of man's life a thing apart, 

'Tis woman's whole existence. 

Man may range the court, camp, church, the vessel and 

the mart, 
Sword, gown, gain, glory offer in exchange. 
Pride, fame, ambition, to fill up his heart — 
And few there are whom these cannot estrange. 
Men have all these resources, we but one — 
To love again and be again undone" 

This may have been true when written. It 
is not true to-day. The old, subjective, stag- 
nant, indolent and wretched life for woman 
has gone. She has as many resources as men, 
as many activities beckon her on. As large 
possibilities swell and inspire her heart. 

Now, then, does it destroy or diminish her 
capacity for loving ? 

Her standards have undoubtedly gone up. 
The necessity of speculating in 'chawnces' has 
probably shifted. The question is not now 
with the woman "How shall I so cramp, 
stunt, simplify and nullify myself as to make 
me elegible to the honor of being swallowed 
up into some little man ?" but the problem, I 
trow, now rests with the man as to how he 
can so develop his God-given powers as to 
reach the ideal of a generation of women who 



THE SOUTH. 71 

demand the noblest, grandest and best 
achievements of which he is capable; and this 
surely is the only fair and natural adjustment 
of the chances. Nature never meant that the 
ideals and standards of the world should be 
dwarfing and minimizing ones, and the men 
should thank us for requiring of them the 
richest fruits which they can grow. If it 
makes them work, all the better for them. 

As to the adaptability of the educated 
woman to the marriage relation, I shall simply 
quote from that excellent symposium of 
learned women that appeared recently under 
Mrs. Armstrong's signature in answer to the 
"Plain Words" of Mr. Allen, alreadv referred 
to. "Admitting no longer any question as to 
their intellectual equality with the men whom 
they meet, with the simplicity of conscious 
strength, they take their place beside the men 
who challenge them, and fearlessly face the 
result of their actions. They deny that their 
education in any way unfits them for the duty 
of wifehood and maternity or primarily ren- 
ders these conditions any less attractive to 
them than to the domestic type of woman. 
On the contrary, they hold that their knowl- 
edge of physiology makes them better mothers 
and- housekeepers; their knowledge of chem- 



72 A VOICE FROM 

istry makes them better cooks ; while from 
their training in other natural sciences and in 
mathematics, they obtain an accuracy and 
fair-mindedness which is of great value to 
them in dealing with their children or em- 
ployees." 

So much for their willingness. Now the 

apple may be good for food and pleasant to 
the eyes, and a fruit to be desired to make 
one wise. Nay, it may even assure you that 
it has no aversion whatever to being tasted. 
Still, if you do not like the flavor all these 
recommendations are nothing. Is the intel- 
lectual woman desirable in the matrimonial 
market ? 

This I cannot answer. I confess my ignor- 
ance. I am no judge of such things. I have 
been told that strong-minded women could 
be, when they thought it worth their while, 
quite endurable, and, judging from the num- 
ber of female names I find in college catalogues 
among the alumnae with double patronymics, 
I surmise that quite a number of men are will- 
ing to put up with them. 

Now I would that my task ended here. 
Having shown that a great want of the world 
in the past has been a feminine force ; that 
that force can have its full effect only through 



THE SOUTH. 78 

the untrammelled development of woman ; 
that such development, while it gives her to 
the world and to civilization, does not neces- 
sarily remove her from the home and fireside ; 
finally, that while past centuries have witnessed 
sporadic instances of this higher growth, still 
it was reserved for the latter half of the nine- 
teenth century to render it common and gen- 
eral enough to be effective; I might close 
with a glowing prediction of what the twen- 
tieth century may expect from this heritage 
of twin forces — the masculine battered and 
toil-worn as a grim veteran after centuries of 
warfare, but still strong, active, and vigorous, 
ready to help with his hard-won experience 
the young recruit rejoicing in her newly found 
freedom, who so confidently places her hand 
in his with mutual pledges to redeem the ages. 

" And so the twain upon the skirts of Time, 
Sit side by side, full-summed in all their powers, 
Dispensing harvest, sowing the To-be, 
Self-reverent each and reverencing each.'' 

Fain would I follow them, but duty is nearer 
home. The high ground of generalities is 
alluring but my pen is devoted to a special 
cause : and with a view to further enlighten- 
ment on the achievements of the century for 

THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF COLORED WOMEN, I 

wrote a few days ago to the colleges which 



74 A VOICE FROM 

admit women and asked how many colored 
women had completed the B. A. course in 
each during its entire history. These are the 
figures returned : Fisk leads the way with 
twelve ; Oberlin next with five ; Wilberforce, 
four ; Ann Arbor and Wellesley three each, 
Livingstone two, Atlanta one, Howard, as 
yet, none. 

I then asked the principal of the Washing- 
ton High School how many out of a large 
number of female graduates from his school 
had chosen to go forward, and take a collegiate 
course. He replied that but one had ever 
done so, and she was then in Cornell.* 

Others ask questions too, sometimes, and I 
was asked a few years ago by a white friend, 
" How is it that the men of your race seem to 
outstrip the women in mental attainment ? " 
" Oh," I said, " so far as it is true, the men, I 
suppose, from the life they lead, gain more by 
contact ; and so far as it is only apparent, I 
think the women are more quiet. They don't 
feel called to mount a barrel and harangue 
by the hour every time they imagine they 
have produced an idea." 

But I am sure there is another reason which 

* Graduated from Scientific Course, June, 1890, the first colored woman 
to graduate from Cornell. 



THE SOUTH. 75 

I did not at that time see fit to give. The at- 
mosphere, the standards, the requirements of 
our little world do not afford any special stim- 
ulus to female development. 

It seems hardly a gracious thing to say, but 
it strikes me as true, that while our men seem 
thoroughly abreast of the times on almost 
every other subject, when they strike the 
woman question they drop back into six- 
teenth century logic. They leave nothing to 
be desired generally in regard to gallantry 
and chivalry, but they actually do not seem 
sometimes to have outgrown that old contem- 
porary of chivalry — the idea that women may 
stand on pedestals or live in doll houses, ( if 
they happen to have them) but they must not 
furrow their brows with thought or attempt 
to help men tug at the great questions of the 
world. I fear the majority of colored men do 
not yet think it worth while that women as- 
pire to higher education. JSTot many will sub- 
scribe to the " advanced " ideas of Grant 
Allen already quoted. The three R's, a little 
music and a good deal of dancing, a first rate 
dress-maker and a bottle of magnolia balm, 
are quite enough generally to render charm- 
ing any woman possessed of tact and the 
capacity for worshipping masculinity. 



76 A VOICE FROM 

My readers will pardon my illustrating my 
point and also giving a reason for the fear 
that is in me, by a little bit of personal ex- 
perience. When a child I was put into a 
school near home that professed to be normal 
and collegiate, i. e. to prepare teachers for col- 
ored youth, furnish candidates for the minis- 
try, and offer collegiate training for those who 
should be ready for it. Well, I found after a 
while that I had a good deal of time on my 
hands. I had devoured what was put before 
me, and, like Oliver Twist, was looking around 
to ask for more. I constantly felt (as I sup- 
pose many an ambitious girl has felt) a thump- 
ing from within unanswered by any beckon- 
ing from without. Class after class was or- 
ganized for these ministerial candidates (many 
of them men who had been preaching before 
I was born). Into every one of these classes 
I was expected to go, with the sole intent, I 
thought at the time, of enabling the dear old 
principal, as he looked from the vacant 
countenances of his sleepy old class over to 
where I sat, to get off* his solitary pun — his 
never-failing pleasantry, especially in hot 
weather — which was, as he called out " Any 
one ! " to the effect that " any one " then 
meant " Annie one." 



THE SOUTH. 77 

Finally a Greek class was to be formed. 
My inspiring preceptor informed me that 
Greek had never been taught in the school, 
but that he was going to form a class for the 
candidates for the ministry, and if I liked I 
might join it. I replied — humbly I hope, as 
became a female of the human species — that I 
would like very much to study Greek, and 
that I was thankful for the opportunity, and 
so it went on. A boy, however meager his 
equipment and shallow his pretentions, had 
only to declare a floating intention to study 
theology and he could get all the support, en- 
couragement and stimulus he needed, be ab- 
solved from work and invested beforehand 
with all the dignity of his far away office. 
While a self-supporting girl had to struggle 
on by teaching in the summer and working 
after school hours to keep up with her board 
bills, and actually to fight her way against 
positive discouragements to the higher educa- 
tion ; till one such girl one day flared out and 
told the principal "the only mission opening 
before a girl in his school was to marry one of 
those candidates." He said he didn't know 
but it was. And when at last that same girl 
announced her desire and intention to go to 
college it was received with about the same 



78 A VOICE FROM 

incredulity and dismay as if a brass button on 
one of those candidate's coats had propounded 
a new method for squaring the circle or tri- 
secting the arc. 

Now this is not fancy. It is a simple un- 
varnished photograph, and what I believe was 
not in those days exceptional in colored 
schools, and I ask the men and women who 
are teachers and co-workers for the highest 
interests of the race, that they give the girls a 
chance ! We might as well expect to grow 
trees from leaves as hope to build up a civil- 
ization or a manhood without taking into 
consideration our women and the home life 
made by them, which must be the root and 
ground of the whole matter. Let us insist 
then on special encouragement for the educa- 
tion of our women and special care in their 
training. L3t our girls feel that we expect 
something more of them than that they 
merely look pretty and appear well in society. 
Teach them that there is a race with special 
needs which they and only they can help ; 
that the world needs and is already asking for 
their trained, efficient forces. Finally, if there 
is an ambitious girl with pluck and brain to 
take the higher education, encourage her to 
make the most of it. Let there be the same 



THE SOUTH. 79 

flourish of trumpets and clapping of hands as 
when a boy announces his determination to 
enter the lists; and then, as you know that 
she is physically the weaker of the two, don't 
stand from under and leave her to buffet the 
waves alone. Let her know that your heart 
is following her, that your hand, though she 
sees it not, is ready to support her. To be 
plain, I mean let money be raised and scholar- 
ships be founded in our colleges and universi- 
ties for self-supporting, worthy young women, 
to offset and balance the aid that can always 
be found for boys who will take theology. 

The earnest well trained Christian young 
woman, as a teacher, as a home-maker, as 
wife, mother, or silent influence even, is as 
potent a missionary agency among our people 
as is the theologian; and I claim that at the 
present stage of our development in the South 
she is even more important and necessary. 

Let us then, here and now, recognize this 
force and resolve to make the most of it — not 
the boys less, but the girls more. 



80 A VOICE FROM 



"WOMAN VERSUS THE INDIAN. ' ; 



IN the National Woman's Council convened 
at Washington in February 1891, among a 
number of thoughtful and suggestive papers 
read by eminent women, was one by the Rev. 
Anna Shaw, bearing the above title. 

That Miss Shaw is broad and just and 
liberal in principal is proved beyond contra- 
diction. Her noble generosity and womanly 
firmness are unimpeachable. The unwaver- 
ing stand taken by herself and Miss Anthony 
in the subsequent color ripple in Wimodaughsis 
ought to be sufficient to allay forever any 
doubts as to the pure gold of these two 
women. 

Of Wimodaughsis (which, being interpreted 
for the uninitiated, is a woman's culture club 
whose name is made up of the first few letters 
of the four words wives, mothers, daughters, 
and sisters) Miss Shaw is president, and a lady 
from the Blue Grass State was secretary. 



THE SOUTH. 81 

Pandora's box is opened in the ideal har- 
mony of this modern Eden without an Adam 
when a colored lady, a teacher in one of our 
schools, applies for admission to its privileges 
and opportunities. 

The Kentucky secretary, a lady zealous in 
good works and one who, I can't help imagin- 
ing, belongs to that estimable class who daily 
thank the Lord that He made the earth 
that they may have the job of superintending 
its rotations, and who really would like to 
help "elevate" the colored people (in her own 
way of course and so long as they understand 
their places) is filled with grief and horror 
that any persons of Negro extraction should 
aspire to learn type-writing or languages or to 
enjoy any other advantages offered in the 
sacred halls of Wimodaughsis. Indeed, she 
had not calculated that there were any wives, 
mothers, daughters, and sisters, except white 
ones ; and she is really convinced that Whirno- 
daughsis would sound just as well, and then it 
need mean just white mothers, daughters and, 
sisters. In fact, so far as there is anything in 
a name, nothing would be lost by omitting 
for the sake of euphony, from this unique 
mosaic, the letters that represent wives. Whi- 
wimodaughsis might be a little startling, and 



82 A VOICE FROM 

on the whole wives would better yield to 
white ; since clearly all women are not wives, 
while surely all wives are daughters. The 
daughters therefore could represent the wives 
and this immaculate assembly for propagating 
liberal and progressive ideas and disseminating 
a broad and humanizing culture might be 
spared the painful possibility of the sight of a 
black man coming in the future to escort from 
an evening class this solitary cream-colored 
applicant. Accordingly the Kentucky secre- 
tary took the cream-colored applicant aside, 
and, with emotions befitting such an epoch- 
making crisis, told her, "as kindly as she 
could," that colored people were not admitted 
to the classes, at the same time refunding the 
money which said cream-colored applicant 
had paid for lessons in type-writing. 

When this little incident came to the 
knowledge of Miss Shaw, she said firmly and 
emphatically, NO. As a minister of the gospel 
and as a Christian woman, she could not lend 
her influence to such unreasonable and un- 
charitable discrimination; and she must resign 
the honor of president of Wimodaughsis if 
persons were to be proscribed solely on ac- 
count of their color. 

To the honor of the|board of managers, be it 



THE SOUTH. 83 

said, they sustained Miss Shaw; and the Ken- 
tucky secretary, and those whom she succeeded 
in inoculating with her prejudices, resigned. 

'Twas only a ripple, — some bewailing of lost 
opportunity on the part of those who could 
not or would not seize God's opportunity for 
broadening and enlarging their own souls — 
and then the work flowed on as before. 

Susan B. Anthony and Anna Shaw are evi- 
dently too noble to be held in thrall by the 
provincialisms of women who seem never to 
have breathed the atmosphere beyond the con- 
fines of their grandfathers' plantations. It is 
only from the broad plateau of light and love 
that one can see petty prejudice and narrow 
priggishness in their true perspective ; and it 
is on this high ground, as I sincerely believe, 
these two grand women stand. 

As leaders in the woman's movement of to- 
day, they have need of clearness of vision as 
well as firmness of soul in adjusting recalci- 
trant forces, and wheeling into line the thou- 
sand and one none-such, never-to-be-modified, 
won't-be-dictated-to banners of their some- 
what mottled array. 

The black woman and the southern woman, 
I imagine, often get them into the predica- 
ment of the befuddled man who had to take 



84 A VOICE FROM 

singly across a stream a bag of corn, a fox 
and a goose. There was no one to help, and 
to leave the goose with the fox was death — 
with the corn, destruction. To re-christen 
the animals, the lion could not be induced to 
lie down with the lamb unless the lamb would 
take the inside berth. 

The black woman appreciates the situation 
and can even sympathize with the actors in 
the serio-comic dilemma. 

But, may it not be that, as women, the very 
lessons which seem hardest to master now, 
are possibly the ones most essential for our 
promotion to a higher grade of work ? 

We assume to be leaders of thought and 
guardians of society. Our country's manners 
and morals are under our tutoring. Our 
standards are law in our several little worlds. 
However tenaciously men may guard some 
prerogatives, they are our willing slaves in 
that sphere which they have always conceded 
to be woman's. Here, no one dares demur 
when her fiat has gone forth. The man would 
be mad who presumed, however inexplicable 
and past finding out any reason for her action 
might be, to attempt to open a door in her 
kingdom officially closed and regally sealed 
by her. 



THE SOUTH. 85 

The American woman of to-day not only 
gives tone directly to her immediate world, 
but her tiniest pulsation ripples out and out, 
down and down, till the outermost circles and 
the deepest layers of society feel the vibra- 
tions. It is pre-eminently an age of organiza- 
tions. The "leading woman," the preacher, 
the reformer, the organizer "enthuses" her 
lieutenants and captains, the literary women, 
the thinking women, the strong, earnest, irre- 
sistible women ; these in turn touch their 
myriads of church clubs, social clubs, culture 
clubs, pleasure clubs and charitable clubs, till 
the same lecture has been duly administered 
to every married man in the land (not to speak 
of sons and brothers) from the President in 
the White House to the stone-splitter of the 
ditches. And so woman's lightest whisper is 
heard as in Dionysius' ear, by quick relays and 
endless reproductions, through every recess 
and cavern as well as on every hilltop and 
mountain in her vast domain. And her man- 
dates are obeyed. When she says "thumbs 
up," woe to the luckless thumb that falters in 
its rising. They may be little things, the 
amenities of life, the little nothings which 
cost nothing and come to nothing, and yet 
can make a sentient being so comfortable or 



86 A VOICE FROM 

so miserable in this life, the oil of social 
machinery, which we call the courtesies of life, 
all are under the magic key of woman's per- 
mit. 

The American woman then is responsible 
for American manners. Not merely the right 
ascension and declination of the satellites of 
her own drawing room ; but the rising and 
the setting of the pestilential or life-giving 
orbs which seem to wander afar in space, all 
are governed almost wholly through her mag- 
netic polarity. The atmosphere of street cars 
and parks and boulevards, of cafes and hotels 
and steamboats is charged and surcharged 
with her sentiments and restrictions. Shop 
girls and serving maids, cashiers and account- 
ant clerks, scribblers and drummers, whether 
wage earner, salaried toiler, or proprietress, 
whether laboring to instruct minds, to save 
souls, to delight fancies, or to win bread, — the 
working women of America in whatever 
station or calling they may be found, are sub- 
jects, officers, or rulers of a strong centralized 
government, and bound together by a system 
ot codes and countersigns, which, though un- 
written, forms a network of perfect subordin- 
ation and unquestioning obedience as marvel- 
ous as that of the Jesuits. At the head and 



THE SOUTH. 87 

center in this regime stands the Leading 
Woman in the principality. The one talis- 
manic word that plays along the wires from 
palace to cook-shop, from imperial Congress 
to the distant plain, is Caste. With all her 
vaunted independence, the American woman 
of to-day is as fearful of losing caste as a 
Brahmin in India. That is the law under 
which she lives, the precepts which she binds 
as frontlets between her eyes and writes on 
the door-posts of her homes, the lesson which 
she instils into her children with their first 
baby breakfasts, the injunction she lays upon 
husband and lover with direst penalties at- 
tached. 

The queen of the drawing room is absolute 
ruler under this law. Her pose gives the cue. 
The microscopic angle at which her pencilled 
brows are elevated, signifies who may be re- 
cognized and who are beyond the pale. The 
delicate intimation is, quick as electricity, 
telegraphed down. Like the wonderful trans- 
formation in the House that Jack Built (or 
regions thereabouts) when the rat began to 
gnaw the rope, the rope to hang the butcher, 
the butcher to kill the ox, the ox to drink the 
water, the water to quench the fire, the fire to 
burn the stick, the stick to beat the dog, and 



88 A VOICE FROM 

the dog to worry the cat, and on, and on, and 
on, — when miladi causes the inner arch over 
her matchless orbs to ascend the merest trifle, 
presto ! the Miss at the notions counter grows 
curt and pert, the dress goods clerk becomes 
indifferent and taciturn, hotel waiters and 
ticket dispensers look the other way, the Irish 
street laborer snarles and scowls, conductors, 
policemen and park superintendents jostle and 
push and threaten, and society suddenly seems 
transformed into a band of organized adders, 
snapping, and striking and hissing just be- 
cause they like it on general principles. The 
tune set by the head singer, sung through all 
keys and registers, with all qualities of 
tone, — the smooth, flowing, and gentle, the 
creaking, whizzing, grating, screeching, growl- 
ing — according to ability, taste, and tempera- 
ment of the singers. Another application of 
like master, like man. In this case, like mis- 
tress, like nation. 

It was the good fortune of the Black Wo- 
of the South to spend some weeks, not long 
since, in a land over which floated the Union 
Jack. The Stars and Stripes were not the 
only familiar experiences missed. A uniform, 
matter-of-fact courtesy, a genial kindliness, 
quick perception of opportunities for render- 



THE SOUTH. 89 

ing any little manly assistance, a readiness to 
give information to strangers, — a hospitable, 
thawing-out atmosphere everywhere — in shops 
and waiting rooms, on cars and in the streets, 
actually seemed to her chilled little soul to 
transform the commonest boor in the service 
of the public into one of nature's noblemen, 
and when the old whipped-cur feeling was 
taken up and analyzed she could hardly tell 
whether it consisted mostly of self pity for 
her own wounded sensibilities, or of shame for 
her country and mortification that her coun- 
trymen offered such an unfavorable contrast. 

Some American girls, I noticed recently, in 
search of novelty and adventure, were taking 
an extended trip through our country unat- 
tended by gentleman friends ; their wish was 
to write up for a periodical or lecture the ease 
and facility, the comfort and safety of Ameri- 
can travel, even for the weak and unpro- 
tected, under our well-nigh perfect railroad 
systems and our gentlemanly and efficient 
corps of officials and public servants. I have 
some material I could furnish these young 
ladies, though possibly it might not be just on 
the side they wish to have illuminated. The 
Black Woman of the South has to do consid- 
erable travelling in this country, often unat- 



90 A VOICE FROM 

tended. She thinks she is quiet and unobtru- 
sive in her manner, simple and inconspicuous 
in her dress, and can see no reason why in any 
chance assemblage of ladies, or even a promis- 
cuous gathering of ordinarily well-bred and 
dignified individuals, she should be signaled 
out for any marked consideration. And yet 
she has seen these same "gentlemanly and effi- 
cient" railroad conductors, when their cars 
had stopped at stations having no raised plat- 
forms, making it necessary for passengers to 
take the long and trying leap from the car 
step to the ground or step on the narrow lit- 
tle stool placed under by the conductor, after 
standing at their posts and handing woman 
after woman from the steps to the stool, thence 
to the ground, or else relieving her of satchels 
and bags and enabling her to make the 
descent easily, deliberately fold their arms and 
turn round when the Black Woman's turn 
came to alight — bearing her satchel, and bear- 
ing besides another unnamable burden inside 
the heaving bosom and tightly compressed 
lips. The feeling of slighted womanhood is 
unlike every other emotion of the soul. Hap- 
pily for the human family, it is unknown 
to many and indescribable to all. Its poign- 
ancy, compared with which even Juno's 



THE SOUTH. 91 

spretae injuria forrnae is earthly and vulgar, 
is holier than that of jealousy, deeper than in- 
dignation, tenderer than rage. Its first im- 
pulse of wrathful protest and proud self vindi- 
cation is checked and shamed by the con- 
sciousness that self assertion would outrage 
still further the same delicate instinct. Were 
there a brutal attitude of hate or of ferocious 
attack, the feminine response of fear or re- 
pulsion is simple and spontaneous. But 
when the keen sting comes through the finer 
sensibilities, from a hand which, by all known 
traditions and ideals of propriety, should have 
been trained to reverence and respect them, the 
condemnation of man's inhumanity to woman 
is increased and embittered by the knowledge 
of personal identity with a race of beings so 
fallen. 

I purposely forbear to mention instances of 
personal violence to colored women travelling 
in less civilized sections of our country, where 
women have been forcibly ejected from cars, 
thrown out of seats, their garments rudely 
torn, their person wantonly and cruelly in- 
jured. America is large and must for some 
time yet endure its out-of-the-way jungles of 
barbarism as Africa its uncultivated tracts of 
marsh and malaria. There are murderers and 



92 A VOICE FROM 

thieves and villains in both London and Paris. 
Humanity from the first has had its vultures 
and sharks, and representatives of the fra- 
ternity who prey upon mankind may be ex- 
pected no less in America than elsewhere. 
That this virulence breaks out most readily 
and commonly against colored persons in this 
country, is due of course to the fact that they 
are, generally speaking, weak and can be im- 
posed upon with impunity. Bullies are al- 
ways cowards at heart and may be credited 
with a pretty safe instinct in scenting their 
prey. Besides, society, where it has not ex- 
actly said to its dogs "s-s-sik him !" has at 
least engaged to be looking in another direc- 
tion or studying the rivers on Mars. It is not 
of the dogs and their doings, but of society 
holding the leash that I shall speak. It is 
those subtile exhalations of atmospheric odors 
for which woman is accountable, the indefina- 
ble, unplaceable aroma which seems to exude 
from the very pores in her finger tips like the 
delicate sachet so dexterously hidden and con- 
cealed in her linens ; the essence of her teach- 
ing, guessed rather than read, so adroitly is 
the lettering and wording manipulated ; it is 
the undertones of the picture laid finely on by 
woman's own practiced hand, the reflection of 



THE SOUTH. 93. 

the lights and shadows on her own brow ; it 
is, in a word, the reputation of our nation for 
general politeness and good manners and of 
our fellow citizens to be somewhat more than 
cads or snobs that shall engage our present 
study. There can be no true test of national 
courtesy without travel. Impressions and 
conclusions based on provincial traits and 
characteristics can thus be modified and gen- 
eralized. Moreover, the weaker and less in- 
fluential the experimenter, the more exact and 
scientific the deductions. Courtesy "for reve- 
nue only" is not politeness, but diplomacy. 
Any rough can assume civilty toward those 
of "his set," and does not hesitate to carry it 
even to servility toward those in whom he 
recognizes a possible patron or his master in 
power, wealth, rank, or influence. But, as 
the chemist prefers distilled H^ O in testing 
solutions to avoid complications and unwar- 
ranted reactions, so the Black Woman holds 
that her femineity linked with the impossi- 
bility of popular afiinity or unexpected attrac- 
tion through position and influence in her 
case makes her a touchstone of American 
courtesy exceptionally pure and singularly 
free from extraneous modifiers. The man 
who is courteous to her is so, not because of 



J)4 A VOICE FROM 

anything he hopes or fears or sees, but because 
he is a gentleman. 

I would eliminate also from the discussion all 
uncharitable reflections upon the orderly exe- 
cution of laws existing in certain -states of 
this Union, requiring persons known to be 
colored to ride in one car, and persons sup- 
posed to be white in another. A good citizen 
may use his influence to have existing laws 
and statutes changed or modified, but a pub- 
lic servant must not be blamed for obeying 
orders. A railroad conductor is not asked to 
dictate measures, nor to make and pass laws. 
His bread and butter are conditioned on his 
managing his part of the machinery as he is 
told to do. If, therefore, I found myself in 
that compartment of a train designated by the 
sovereign law of the state for presumable Cau- 
casians, and for colored persons only when 
traveling in the capacity of nurses and maids, 
should a conductor inform me, as a gentleman 
might, that I had made a mistake, and offer to 
show me the proper car for black ladies ; I 
might wonder at the expensive arrangements 
of the company and of the state in providing 
special and separate accommodations for the 
transportation of the various hues of humanity, 
but I certainly could not take it as a want of 



THE SOUTH. 95 

courtesy on the conductor's part that he gave 
the information. It is true, public sentiment 
precedes and begets all laws, good or bad ; and 
on the ground I have taken, our women are to 
be credited largely as teachers and moulders 
of public sentiment. But when a law has 
passed and received the sanction of the land, 
there is nothing for our officials to do but en- 
force it till repealed ; and I for one, as a loyal 
American citizen, will give those officials 
cheerful support and ready sympathy in the 
discharge of their duty. But when a great 
burly six feet of masculinity with sloping 
shoulders and unkempt beard swaggers in, 
and, throwing a roll of tobacco into one cor- 
ner of his jaw, growls out at me over the 
paper I am reading, " Here gurl," (I am past 
thirty) " you better git out 'n dis kyar 'f yer 
don't, I'll put yer out," — my mental annota- 
tion is Here's an American citizen who has 
been badly trained. He is sadly lacking in 
both ' sweetness ' and ' light ' ; and when in the 
same section of our enlightened and progres- 
sive country, I see from the car window, work- 
ing on private estates, convicts from the state 
penitentiary, among them squads of boys 
from fourteen to eighteen years of age in a 
chain-gang, their feet chained together and 



96 A VOICE FROM 

heavy blocks attached — not in 1850, but in 
1890, '91 and '92, I make a note on the fly- 
leaf of my memorandum, The women in this 
section should organize a Society for the Pre- 
vention of Cruelty to Human Beings, and dis- 
seminate civilizing tracts, and send throughout 
the region apostles of anti-barbarism for the 
'propagation of humane and, enlightened ideas. 
And when farther on in the same section 
our train stops at a dilapidated station, ren- 
dered yet more unsightly by dozens of loafers 
with their hands in their pockets while a pro- 
ductive soil and inviting climate beckon in 
vain to industry ; and when, looking a little 
more closely, I see two dingy little rooms 
with " FOR LADIES " swinging over one and 
"FOR COLORED PEOPLE" over the other; 
while wondering under which head I come, I 
notice a little way off the only hotel proprie- 
tor of the place whittling a pine stick as he 
sits with one leg thrown across an empty 
goods box ; and as my eye falls on a sample 
room next door which seems to be driving the 
only wide-awake and popular business of the 
commonwealth, I cannot help ejaculating un- 
der my breath, " What a field for the mis- 
sionary woman." I know that if by any 
fatality I should be obliged to lie over at that 



THE SOUTH. 97 

station, and, driven by hunger, should be com- 
pelled to seek refreshments or the bare nec- 
essaries of life at the only public accommoda- 
tion in the town, that same stick-whittler 
would coolly inform me, without looking up 
from his pine splinter, " We doan uccommo- 
date no niggers hyur." And yet we are so 
scandalized at Russia's barbarity and cruelty 
to the Jews ! We pay a man a thousand dol- 
lars a night just to make us weep, by a recital 
of such heathenish inhumanity as is practiced 
on Sclavonic soil. 

A recent writer on Eastern nations says: 
"If we take through the earth's temperate 
zone, a belt of country whose northern and 
southern edges are determined by certain lim- 
iting isotherms, not more than half the width 
of the zone apart, we shall find that we have 
included in a relatively small extent of sur- 
face almost all the nations of note in the 
world, past or present. Now, if we examine 
this belt and compare the different parts of 
it with one another, we shall be struck by a 
remarkable fact. The peoples inhabiting it 
grow steadily more personal as we go west. 
So unmistakable is this gradation, that one is 
almost tempted to ascribe it to cosmical rather 
than to human causes. It is as marked as the 



98 A VOICE PROM 

change in color of the human complexion ob- 
servable along any meridian, which ranges 
from black at the equator to blonde toward 
the pole. In like manner the sense of self 
grows more intense as we follow in the 
wake of the setting sun, and fades steadily as 
we advance into the dawn. America, Europe, 
the Levant, India, Japan, each is less personal 

than the one before That politeness 

should be one of the most marked results of 
impersonality may appear surprising, yet a 
slight examination will show it to be a fact. 
Considered a priori, the connection is not far 
to seek. Impersonality by lessening the in- 
terest in one's self, induces one to take an in- 
terest in others. Looked at a posteriori, we 
find that where the one trait exists the other 
is most developed, while an absence of the 
second seems to prevent the full growth of the 
first. This is true both in general and in de- 
tail. Courtesy increases as we travel eastward 
round, the world, coincidently with a decrease in 
the sense of self Asia is more courteous than 
Europe, Europe than America. Particular 
races show the same concomitance of charac- 
teristics. France, the most impersonal nation 
of Europe, is at the same time the most polite." 
And by inference, Americans, the most per- 



THE SOUTH. 99 

sonal, are the least courteous nation on the 
globe. 

The Black Woman had reached this same 
conclusion by an entirely different route ; but 
it is gratifying to vanity, nevertheless, to find 
one's self sustained by both science and phi- 
losophy in a conviction, wrought in by hard 
experience, and yet too apparently audacious 
to be entertained even as a stealthy surmise. 
In fact the Black Woman was emboldened 
some time since by a well put and timely 
article from an Editors Drawer on the " Man- 
nerless Sex," to give the world the benefit of 
some of her experience with the " Mannerless 
Race" ; but since Mr. Lowell shows so con- 
clusively that the entire Land of the West is a 
mannerless continent, I have determined to 
plead with our women, the mannerless sex on 
this mannerless continent, to institute a reform 
by placing immediately in our national cur- 
ricula a department for teaching good manners. 

Now, am I right in holding the American 
Woman responsible ? Is it true that the ex- 
ponents of woman's advancement, the leaders 
in woman's thought, the preachers and teachers 
of all woman's reforms, can teach this nation 
to be courteous, to be pitiful, having compas- 
sion one of another, not rendering evil for in- 



100 A VOICE FROM 

oiiensiveness, and railing in proportion to the 
improbability of being struck back ; but con- 
trariwise, being all of one mind, to love as 
brethren ? 

I think so. 

It may require some heroic measures, and 
like all revolutions will call for a determined 
front and a courageous, unwavering, stalwart 
heart on the part of the leaders of the 
reform. 

The " all " will inevitably stick in the throat 
of the Southern woman. She must be allowed, 
please, to except the ' darkey ' from the ' all ' ; 
it is too bitter a pill with black people in it. 
You must get the Revised Version to put it, 
" love all white people as brethren." She really 
could not enter any society on earth, or in 
heaven above, or in — the waters under the 
earth, on such unpalatable conditions. 

The Black Woman has tried to understand 
the Southern woman's difficulties ; to put her- 
self in her place, and to be as fair, as charita- 
ble, and as free from prejudice in judging her 
antipathies, as she would have others in re- 
gard to her own. She has honestly weighed 
the apparently sincere excuse, " But you must 
remember that these people were once our 
slaves " ; and that other, " But civility towards 



THE SOUTH. 101 

the Negroes will bring us on social equality 
with them." 

These are the two bugbears ; or rather, the 
two humbugbears : for, though each is founded 
on a most glaring fallacy, one would think 
they were words to conjure with, so potent 
and irresistible is their spell as an argument 
at the North as well as in the South. 

One of the most singular facts about the 
unwritten history of this country is the con- 
summate ability with which Southern influ- 
ence, Southern ideas and Southern ideals, have 
from the very beginning even up to the pres- 
ent day, dictated to and domineered over the 
brain and sinew of this nation. Without 
wealth, without education, without inventions, 
arts, sciences, or industries, without well-nigh 
every one of the progressive ideas and 
impulses which have made this country 
great, prosperous and happy, personally indo- 
lent and practically stupid, poor in everything 
but bluster and self-esteem, the Southerner 
has nevertheless with Italian finesse and ex- 
quisite skill, uniformly and invariably, so 
manipulated Northern sentiment as to succeed 
sooner or later in carrying his point and 
shaping the policy of this government to suit 
his purposes. Indeed, the Southerner is a 



102 A VOICE FROM 

magnificent manager of men, a born educator. 
For two hundred and fifty years he trained to 
his hand a people whom he made absolutely 
his own, in body, mind, and sensibility. He 
so insinuated differences and distinctions 
among them, that their personal attachment 
for him was stronger than for their own 
brethren and fellow sufferers. He made 
it a crime for two or three of them to be 
gathered together in Christ's name with- 
out a white man's supervision, and a felony 
for one to teach them to read even the 
Word of Life ; and yet they would defend 
his interest with their life blood; his smile 
was their happiness, a pat on the shoulder 
from him their reward. The slightest dif- 
ference among themselves in condition, cir- 
cumstances, opportunities, became barriers of 
jealousy and disunion. He sowed his blood 
broadcast among them, then pitted mulatto 
against black, bond against free, house slave 
against plantation slave, even the slave of one 
clan against like slave of another clan ; till, 
wholly oblivious of their ability for mutual 
succor and defense, all became centers of 
myriad systems of repellent forces, having but 
one sentiment in common, and that their en- 
tire subjection to that master hand. 



TFE SOUTH. 103 

And he not only managed the black man, 
he also hoodwinked the white man, the 
tourist and investigator who visited his lordly 
estates. The slaves were doing well, in fact 
couldn't be happier, — plenty to eat, plenty to 
drink, comfortably housed and clothed — they 
wouldn't be free if they could ; in short, in his 
broad brimmed plantation hat and easy aristo- 
cratic smoking gown, he made you think him 
a veritable patriarch in the midst of a lazy, 
well fed, good natured, over-indulged tenantry. 

Then, too, the South represented blood — 
not red blood, but blue blood. The difference 
is in the length of the stream and your dis- 
tance from its source. If your own father 
was a pirate, a robber, a murderer, his hands 
are dyed in red blood, and you don't say very 
much about it. But if your great great great 
grandfather's grandfather stole and pillaged 
and slew, and you can prove it, your blood 
has become blue and you are at great pains to 
establish the relationship. So the South had 
neither silver nor gold, but she had blood; 
and she paraded it with so much gusto that 
the substantial little Puritan maidens of the 
North, who had been making bread and can- 
ning currants and not thinking of blood the 
least bit, began to hunt up the records of the 



104 A VOICE FROM 

Mayflower to see if some of the passengers 
thereon could not claim the honor of having 
been one of William the Conqueror's brigands, 
when he killed the last of the Saxon kings 
and, red-handed, stole his crown and his lands. 
Thus the ideal from out the Southland brooded 
over the nation and we sing less lustily than 
of yore 

' Kind hearts are more than coronets 
And simple faith than Norman blood. ■ 

In politics, the two great forces, commerce 
and empire, which would otherwise have 
shaped the destiny of the country, have been 
made to pander and cater to Southern notions. 
" Cotton is King " meant the South must be 
allowed to dictate or there would be no fun. 
Every statesman from 1830 to 1860 exhausted 
his genius in persuasion and compromises to 
smooth out her ruffled temper and gratify her 
petulant demands. But like a sullen younger 
sister, the South has pouted and sulked and 
cried : " I won't play with you now ; so there !" 
and the big brother at the North has coaxed 
and compromised and given in, and — ended 
by letting her have her way. Until 1860 she 
had as her pet an institution which it was 
death by the law to say anything about, except 
that it was divinely instituted, inaugurated by 



THE SOUTH. 105 

Noah, sanctioned by Abraham, approved by 
Paul, and just ideally perfect in every way. 
And when, to preserve the autonomy of the 
family arrangements, in '61, '62 and '63, it- 
became necessary for the big brother to ad- 
minister a little wholesome correction and set 
the obstreperous Miss vigorously down in her 
seat again, she assumed such an air of in- 
jured innocence, and melted away so lugubri- 
ously, the big brother has done nothing since 
but try to sweeten and pacify and laugh her 
back into a companionable frame of mind. 

Father Lincoln did all he could to get her 
to repent of her petulance and behave herself. 
He even promised she might keep her pet, so 
disagreeable to all the neighbors and hurtful 
even to herself, and might manage it at home 
to suit herself, if she would only listen to 
reason and be just tolerably nice. But, no — 
she was going to leave and set up for herself ; 
she didn't propose to be meddled with ; and so, 
of course, she had to be spanked. Just a little 
at first — didn't mean to hurt, merely to teach 
her who was who. But she grew so ugly, and 
kicked and fought and scratched so outrag- 
eously, and seemed so determined to smash up 
the whole business, the head of the family got 
red in the face, and said: "Well, now, he 



10(3 A VOICE FROM 

couldn't have any more of that foolishness. 
Arabella must just behave herself or take the 
consequences." And after the spanking, Ara- 
bella sniffed and whimpered and pouted, and 
the big brother bit his lip, looked half ashamed, 
and said: "Well, I didn't want to hurt you. 
You needn't feel so awfully bad about it, I 
only did it for your good. You know T I 
wouldn't do anything to displease you if I 
could help it ; but you would insist on making 
the row, and so I just had to. Now, there- 
there— let's be friends ! " and he put his great 
strong arms about her and just dared anybody 
to refer to that little unpleasantness — he'd 
show them a thing or two. Still Arabella 
sulked, — -till the rest of the family decided she 
might just keep her pets, and manage her own 
affairs and nobody should interfere. 

So now, if one intimates that some clauses 
of the Constitution are a dead letter at the 
South and that only the name and support of 
that pet institution are changed while the fact 
and essence, minus the expense and responsi- 
bility, remain, he is quickly told to mind his 
own business and informed that he is waving 
the bloody shirt. 

Even twenty-five years after the fourteenth 
and fifteenth amendments to our Constitution, 



THE SOUTH. 107 

a man who has been most unequivocal in his 
outspoken condemnation of the wrongs regu- 
larly and systematically heaped on the op- 
pressed race in this country, and on all even 
most remotely connected with them — a man 
whom we had thought our staunchest friend 
and most noble champion and defender — after 
a two weeks' trip in Georgia and Florida im- 
mediately gives signs of the fatal inception of 
the virus. Not even the chance traveller from 
England or Scotland escapes. The arch- 
manipulator takes him under his special watch- 
care and training, uses up his stock arguments 
and gives object lessons with his choicest 
specimens of Negro depravity and worthless- 
ness ; takes him through what, in New York, 
would be called " the slums," and would predi- 
cate there nothing but the duty of enlightened 
Christians to send out their light and emulate 
their Master's aggressive labors of love ; but 
in Georgia is denominated " our terrible prob- 
lem, which people of the North so little under- 
stand, yet vouchsafe so much gratuitous advice 
about." With an injured air he shows the 
stupendous and atrocious mistake of reasoning 
about these people as if they were just ordin- 
ary human beings, and amenable to the tenets 
of the Gospel ; and not long after the inocula- 



108 A VOICE FROM 

tion begins to work, you hear this old-time 
friend of the oppressed delivering himself 
something after this fashion : " Ah, well, the 
South must be left to manage the Negro. She 
is most directly concerned and must under- 
stand her problem better than outsiders. We 
must not meddle. 4 We must be very care- 
ful not to widen the breaches. The Negro 
is not worth a feud between brothers and 
sisters." 

Lately a great national and international 
movement characteristic of this age and 
country, a movement based on the inherent 
right of every soul to its own highest develop- 
ment, I mean the movement making for 
Woman's full, free, and complete emancipa- 
tion, has, after much courting, obtained the 
gracious smile of the Southern woman — I beg 
her pardon — the Southern lady. 

She represents blood, and of course could 
not be expected to leave that out; and firstly 
and foremostly she must not, in any organiza- 
tion she may deign to grace with her pres- 
ence, be asked to associate with " these peo- 
ple who were once her slaves." 

Now the Southern woman ( I may be par- 
doned, being one myself ) was never renow T ned 
for her reasoning powers, and it is not surpris- 



THE SOUTH. 109 

ing that just a little picking will make her 
logic fall to pieces even here. 

In the first place she imagines that because 
her grandfather had slaves who were black, 
all the blacks in the world of every shade and 
tint were once in the position of her slaves. 
This is as bad as the Irishman who was about 
to kill a peaceable Jew in the streets of Cork, 
— having just learned that Jews slew his Re- 
deemer. The black race constitutes one-sev- 
enth the known population of the globe ; and 
there are representatives of it here as else- 
where who were never in bondage at any 
time to any man, — whose blood is as blue and 
lineage as noble as any, even that of the white 
lady of the South. That her slaves were black 
and she despises her slaves, should no more 
argue antipathy to all dark people and peoples, 
than that Guiteau, an assassin, was white, and 
I hate assassins, should make me hate all per- 
sons more or less white. The objection shows 
a want of clear discrimination. 

The second fallacy in the objection grows 
out of the use of an ambiguous middle, as the 
logicians would call it, or assigning a double 
signification to the term " Social equality" 

Civility to the Negro implies social equality. 
I am opposed to associating with dark persons 



110 A VOICE FROM 

on terms of social equality. Therefore, I ab- 
rogate civility to the Negro. This is like 

Light is opposed to darkness. 
Feathers are light. 
Ergo, Feathers are opposed to darkness. 

The " social equality " implied by civility to 
the Negro is a very different thing from forced 
association with him socially. Indeed it 
seems to me that the mere application of a 
little cold common sense would show that un- 
congenial social environments could by no 
means be forced on any one. I do not, and 
cannot be made to associate with all dark per- 
sons, simply on the ground that I am dark ; 
and I presume the Southern lady can imagine 
some whose faces are white, with whom she 
would no sooner think of chatting unreserved- 
ly than, were it possible, with a veritable 
< darkey.' Such things must and will always 
be left to individual election. No law, human 
or divine, can legislate for or against them. 
Like seeks like ; and I am sure with the 
Southern lady's antipathies at their present 
temperature, she might enter ten thousand 
organizations besprinkled with colored women 
without being any more deflected by them 
than by the proximity of a stone. The social 
equality scare then is all humbug, conscious 



THE SOUTH. Ill 

or unconscious, I know not which. And were 
it not too bitter a thought to utter here, I 
might add that the overtures for forced associ- 
ation in the past history of these two races 
were not made by the manacled black man, 
nor by the silent and suffering black woman ! 

When I seek food in a public cafe or apply 
for first-class accommodations on a railway 
train, I do so because my physical necessities 
are identical with those of other human 
beings of like constitution and temperament, 
and crave satisfaction. I go because I want 
food, or I want comfort — not because I want 
association with those who frequent these 
places ; and I can see no more " social equality " 
in buying lunch at the same restaurant, or 
riding in a common car, than there is in pay- 
ing for dry goods at the same counter or 
walking on the same street. 

The social equality which means forced or 
unbidden association would be as much depre- 
cated and as strenuously opposed by the circle 
in which I move as by the most hide-bound 
Southerner in the land. Indeed I have been 
more than once annoyed by the inquisitive 
white interviewer, who, with spectacles on 
nose and pencil and note-book in hand, comes 
to get some " points " about " your people" 



112 A VOICE FROM 

My "people" are just like other people — in- 
deed, too like for their own good. They hate, 
they love, they attract and repel, they climb 
or they grovel, struggle or drift, aspire or des- 
pair, endure in hope or curse in vexation, 
exactly like all the rest of unregenerate hu- 
manity. Their likes and dislikes are as strong ; 
their antipathies — and prejudices too I fear, 
are as pronounced as you will find anywhere ; 
and the entrance to the inner sanctuary of 
their homes and hearts is as jealously guarded 
against profane intrusion. 

What the dark man wants then is merely to 
live his own life, in his own world, with his 
own chosen companions, in whatever of com- 
fort, luxury, or emoluments his talent or his 
money can in an impartial market secure. 
Has he wealth, he does not want to be forced 
into inconvenient or unsanitary sections of 
cities to buy a home and rear his family. Has 
he art, he does not want to be cabined and 
cribbed ■ into emulation with the few who 
merely happen to have his complexion. His 
talent aspires to study without proscription 
the masters of all ages and to rub against the 
broadest and fullest movements of his own 
day. 

Has he religion, he does not want to be 



THE SOUTH 113 

made to feel that there is a white Christ and 
a black Christ, a white Heaven and a black 
Heaven, a white Gospel and a black Gospel, — 
but the one ideal of perfect manhood and 
womanhood, the one universal longing for de- 
velopment and growth, the one desire for 
being, and being better, the one great yearn- 
ing, aspiring, outreaching, in all the heart- 
throbs of humanity in whatever race or clime. 

A recent episode in the Corcoran art gallery 
at the American capital is to the point. A 
colored woman who had shown marked ability 
in drawing and coloring, was advised by her 
teacher, himself an artist of no mean rank, to 
apply for admission to the Corcoran school in 
order to study the models and to secure other 
advantages connected with the organization. 
She accordingly sent a written application ac- 
companied by specimens of her drawings, the 
usual modus operandi in securing admission. 

The drawings were examined by the best 
critics and pronounced excellent, and a ticket 
of admission was immediately issued together 
with a highly complimentary reference to her 
work. 

The next day my friend, congratulating her 
country and herself that at least in the republic 
of art no caste existed, presented her ticket of 



114 A VOICE FROM 

admission in propria persona. There was a 
little preliminary side play in Delsarte panto- 
mine, — aghast — incredulity — wonder ; then 
the superintendent told her in plain unartistic 
English that of course he had not dreamed a 
colored person could do such work, and had 
he suspected the truth he would never have 
issued the ticket of admission; that, to be 
right frank, the ticket would have to be can- 
celled, — she could under no condition be ad- 
mitted to the studio. 

Can it be possible that even art in America 
is to be tainted by this shrivelling caste spirit? 
If so, what are we coming to ? Can any one 
conceive a Shakespeare, a Michael Angelo, or 
a Beethoven putting away any fact of simple 
merit because the thought, or the suggestion, 
or the creation emanated from a soul with an 
unpleasing exterior? 

What is it that makes the great English 
bard pre-eminent as the photographer of the 
human soul? Where did he learn the uni- 
versal language, so that Parthians, Medes and 
Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, in 
Egypt and Libya, in Crete and Arabia do hear 
every one in our own tongue the wonderful 
revelations of this myriad mind ? How did he 
learn our language ? Is it not that his own 



THE SOUTH. 115 

soul was infinitely receptive to Nature, the 
dear old nurse, in all her protean forms ? Did 
he not catch and reveal her own secret by his 
sympathetic listening as she "would constantly 
sing a more wonderful song or tell a more 
marvellous tale " in the souls he met around 
him ? 

" Stand off! I am better than thou!" has 
never yet painted a true picture, nor written a 
thrilling song, nor giv.en a pulsing, a soul- 
burning sermon. 'Tis only sympathy, another 
name for love, — that one poor word which, as 
George Eliot says, " expresses so much of 
human insight" — that can interpret either 
man or matter. 

It was Shakespeare's own all-embracing 
sympathy, that infinite receptivity of his, and 
native, all-comprehending appreciation, which 
proved a key to unlock and open every soul 
that came within his radius. And he received 
as much as he gave. His own stores were in- 
finitely enriched thereby. For it is decreed 

Man like the vine supported lives, 

The strength he gains is from th' embrace he gives. 

It is only through clearing the "eyes from bias 
and prejudice, and becoming one with the 
great all pervading soul of the universe that 
either art or science can 



116 A VOICE FROM 

14 Read what is still unread 
In the manuscripts o£ God." 

No true artist can allow himself to be narrowed 
and provincialized by deliberately shutting 
out any class of facts or subjects through 
prejudice against externals. And American 
art, American science, American literature 
can never be founded in truth, the universal 
beauty ; can never learn to speak a language 
intelligible in all climes and for all ages, till 
this paralyzing grip of caste prejudice is loos- 
ened from its vitals, and the healthy sympa- 
thetic eye is taught to look out on the great 
universe as holding no favorites and no black 
beasts, but bearing in each plainest or loveliest 
feature the handwriting of its God. 

And this is why, as it appears to me, woman 
in her lately acquired vantage ground for 
speaking an earnest helpful word, can do this 
country no deeper and truer and more lasting 
good than by bending all her energies to thus 
broadening, humanizing, and civilizing her 
native land. 

" Except ye become as little children " is not 
a pious precept, but an inexorable law of the 
universe. God's kingdoms are all sealed to 
the seedy, moss-grown mind of self-satisfied 
maturity. Only the little child in spirit, the 



THE SOUTH. 117 

simple, receptive, educable mind can enter. 
Preconceived notions, blinding prejudices, and 
shrivelling antipathies must be wiped out, and 
the cultivable soul made a tabula rasa for 
whatever lesson great Nature has to teach. 

This, too, is why I conceive the subject to 
have been unfortunately worded which was 
chosen by Miss Shaw at the Woman's Coun- 
cil and which stands at the head of this 
chapter. 

Miss Shaw is one of the most powerful of 
0)Ur leaders, and we feel her voice should give 
no uncertain note. Woman should not, even 
by inference, or for the sake of argument, 
seem to disparage what is weak. For woman's 
cause is the cause of the weak ; and when all 
the weak shall have received their due consid- 
eration, then woman will have her " rights," 
and the Indian will have his rights, and the 
Negro will have his rights, and all the strong 
will have learned at last to deal justly, to love 
mercy, and to walk humbly ; and our fair land 
will have been taught the secret of universal 
courtesy which is after all nothing but the art, 
the science, and the religion of regarding one's 
neighbor as one's self, and to do for him as 
we would, were conditions swapped, that he 
do for us. 



11* A VOICE FROM 

It cannot seem less than a blunder, when- 
ever the exponents of a great reform or the 
harbingers of a noble advance in thought and 
effort allow themselves to seem distorted by a 
narrow view of their own aims and principles. 
All prejudices, whether of race, sect or sex, 
class pride and caste distinctions are the be- 
littling inheritance and badge of snobs and 
prigs. 

The philosophic mind sees that its own 
" rights " are the rights of humanity. That 
in the universe of God nothing trivial is or 
mean; and the recognition it seeks is not 
through the robber and wild beast adjustment 
of the survival of the bullies but through the 
universal application ultimately of the Golden 
Rule. 

Not unfrequently has it happened that the 
impetus of a mighty thought wave has done 
the execution meant by its Creator in spite of 
the weak and distorted perception of its human 
embodiment. It is not strange if reformers, 
who, after all, but think God's thoughts after 
him, have often " builded more wisely than 
they knew ; " and while fighting consciously 
for only a narrow gateway for themselves, 
have been driven forward by that irresistible 
" Power not ourselves which makes for right- 



THE SOUTH. 119 

i 

eousness " to open a high road for humanity. 
It was so with our sixteenth century refor- 
mers. The fathers of the Reformation had no 
idea that they were inciting an insurrection of 
the human mind against all domination. None 
would have been more shocked than they at 
our nineteenth century deductions from their 
sixteenth century premises. Emancipation of 
mind and freedom of thought would have 
been as appalling to them as it was distasteful 
to the pope. They were right, they argued, 
to rebel against Romish absolutism — because 
Romish preaching and Romish practicing were 
wrong. They denounced popes for hacking 
heretics and forthwith began themselves to 
roast witches. The Spanish Inquisition in the 
hands of Philip and Alva was an institution 
of the devil; wielded by the faithful, it would 
become quite another thing. The only "rights" 
they were broad enough consciously to fight 
for was the right to substitute the absolutism 
of their conceptions, their party, their ' ism ' 
for an authority whose teaching they con- 
ceived to be corrupt and vicious. Persecution 
for a belief was wrong only when the perse- 
cutors were wrong and the persecuted right. 
The sacred prerogative of the individual to 
decide on matters of belief they did not dream 



120 A VOICE FROM 

of maintaining. Universal tolerance and its 
twin, universal charity, were not conceived 
yet. The broad foundation stone of all human 
rights, the great democratic principle " A 
man's a man, and his own sovereign for a' that" 
they did not dare enunciate. They were in- 
capable of drawing up a Declaration of Inde- 
pendence for humanity. The Reformation to 
the Reformers meant one bundle of authorita- 
tive opinions vs. another bundle of authorita- 
tive opinions. Justification by faith, vs. justi- 
fication by ritual. Submission to Calvin vs. 
submission to the Pope. English and Ger- 
mans vs. the Italians. 

To our eye, viewed through a vista of three 
centuries, it was the death wrestle of the prin- 
ciple of thought enslavement in the throttling 
grasp of personal freedom ; it was the great 
Emancipation Day of human belief, man's in- 
tellectual Independence Day, prefiguring and 
finally compelling the world-wide enfranchise- 
ment of his body and all its activities. Not 
Protestant vs. Catholic, then ; not Luther vs. 
Leo, not Dominicans vs. Augustinians, nor 
Geneva vs. Rome ; — but humanity rationally 
free, vs. the clamps of tradition and supersti- 
tion jvhich had manacled and muzzled it. 

The cause of freedom is not the cause of a 



THE SOUTH. 121 

race or a sect, a party or a class, — it is the 
cause of human kind, the very birthright of 
humanity. Now unless we are greatly mis- 
taken the Reform of our day, known as the 
Woman's Movement, is essentially such an 
embodiment, if its pioneers could only realize 
it, of the universal good. And specially im- 
portant is it that there be no confusion of 
ideas among its leaders as to its scope and 
universality. All mists must be clear.ed from 
the eyes of woman if she is to be a teacher of 
morals and manners : the former strikes its 
roots in the individual and its training and 
pruning may be accomplished by classes ; but 
the latter is to lubricate the joints and minim- 
ize the friction of society, and it is important 
and fundamental that there be no chromatic 
or other aberration when the teacher is settling 
the point, " Who is my neighbor? " 

It is not the intelligent woman vs. the 
ignorant woman ; nor the white woman vs. 
the black, the brown, and the red, — it is not 
even the cause of woman vs. man. Nay, 'tis 
woman's strongest vindication for speaking 
that the world needs to hear her voice. It would 
be subversive of every human interest that the 
cry of one-half the human family be stifled. 
Woman in stepping from the pedestal of 



122 A VOICE FROM 

statue-like inactivity in the domestic shrine, 
and daring to think and move and speak, — to 
undertake to help shape, mold, and direct the 
thought of her age, is merely completing the 
circle of the world's vision. Hers is every 
interest that has lacked an interpreter and a 
defender. Her cause is linked with that of 
every agony that has been dumb — every wrong 
that needs a voice. 

It is no fault of man's that he has not been 
able to see truth from her standpoint. It does 
credit both to his head and heart that' no 
greater mistakes have been committed or even 
wrongs perpetrated while she sat making 
tatting and snipping paper flowers. Man's 
own innate chivalry and the mutual interde- 
pendence of their interests have insured his 
treating her cause, in the main at least, as his 
own. And he is pardonably surprised and 
even a little chagrined, perhaps, to find his 
legislation not considered " perfectly lovely '' 
in every respect. But in any case his work is 
only impoverished by her remaining dumb. 
The world has had to limp along with the 
wobbling gait and one-sided hesitancy of a 
man with one eye. Suddenly the bandage is 
removed from the other eye and the whole 
b ody is filled with light. It sees a circle where 



THE SOUTH 123 

before it saw a segment. The darkened eye 
restored, every member rejoices with it. 

"What a travesty of its case for this eye to 
become plaintiff in a suit, Eye vs. Foot. " There 
is that dull clod, the foot, allowed to roam at 
will, free and untrammelled; while I, the 
source and medium of light, brilliant and 
beautiful, am fettered in darkness and doomed 
to desuetude." The great burly black man, 
ignorant and gross and depraved, is allowed 
to vote ; while the franchise is withheld from 
the intelligent and refined, the pure-minded 
and lofty souled white woman. Even the un- 
tamed and untamable Indian of the prairie, 
who can answer nothing but ' ugh ' to great 
economic and civic questions is thought by 
some worthy to wield the ballot which is still 
denied the Puritan maid and the first lady of 
Virginia. 

Is not this hitching our wagon to something 
much lower than a star? Is not woman's 
cause broader, and deeper, and grander, than 
a blue stocking debate or an aristocratic pink 
tea ? Why should woman become plaintiff in 
a suit versus the Indian, or the Negro or any 
other race or class who have been crushed 
under the iron heel of Anglo-Saxon power 
and selfishness? If the Indian has been 



124 A VOICE FROM 

wronged and cheated by the puissance of this 
American government, it is woman's mission 
to plead with her country to cease to do evil 
and to pay its honest debts. If the Negro has 
been deceitfully cajoled or inhumanly cuffed 
according to seliish expediency or capricious 
antipathy, let it be woman's mission to plead 
that he be met as a man and honestly given 
half the road. If woman's own happiness has 
been ignored or misunderstood in our coun- 
try's legislating for bread winners, for rum sel- 
lers, for property holders, for the family rela- 
tions, for any or all the interests that touch 
her vitally, let her rest her plea, not on Indian 
inferiority, nor on Negro depravity, but on 
the obligation of legislators to do for her as 
they would have others do for them were re- 
lations reversed. Let her try to teach her 
country that every interest in this world is 
entitled at least to a respectful hearing, that 
every sentiency is worthy of its own gratifica- 
tion, that a helpless cause should not be 
trampled down, nor a bruised reed broken; 
and when the right of the individual is made 
sacred, when the image of God in human 
form, whether in marble or in clay, whether 
in alabaster or in ebony, is consecrated and 
inviolable, when men have been taught to 



THE SOUTH. 125 

look beneath the rags and grime, the pomp 
and pageantry of mere circumstance and have 
regard unto the celestial kernel uncontami- 
nated at the core, — when race, color, sex, con- 
dition, are realized to be the accidents, not the 
substance of life, and consequently as not ob- 
scuring or modifying the inalienable title to 
life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, — then is 
mastered the science of politeness, the art of 
courteous contact, which is naught but the 
practical application of the principal of benev- 
olence, the back bone and marrow of all re- 
ligion ; then woman's lesson is taught and 
woman's cause is won — not the w r hite woman 
nor the black woman nor the red woman, but 
the cause of every man or woman who has 
writhed silently under a mighty wrong. The 
pleading of the American woman for the 
right and the opportunity to employ the 
American method of influencing the disposal 
to be made of herself, her property, her chil- 
dren in civil, economic, or domestic relations 
is thus seen to be based on a principle as 
broad as the human race and as old as human 
society. Her wrongs are thus indissolubly 
linked with all undefended woe, all helpless 
suffering, and the plenitude of her " rights" 
will. mean the final triumph of all right over 



\26 A VOICE FROM 

might, the supremacy of the moral forces of 
reason and justice and love in the government 
of the nation. 

God hasten the day. 



THE SOUTH. 127 



THE STATUS OF WOMAN IN AMERICA. 



JUST four hundred years ago an obscure 
r^ dreamer and castle builder, prosaically 
poor and ridiculously insistent on the reality 
of his dreams, was enabled through the devo- 
tion of a noble woman to give to civilization a 
magnificent continent. 

What the lofty purpose of Spain's pure- 
minded queen had brought to the birth, the 
untiring devotion of pioneer women nourished 
and developed. The dangers of wild beasts 
and of wilder men, the mysteries of unknown 
wastes and unexplored forests, the horrors of 
pestilence and famine, of exposure and loneli- 
ness, during all those years of discovery and 
settlement, were braved without a murmur 
by women who had been most delicately con- 
stituted and most tenderly nurtured. 

And when the times of physical hardship 
and danger were past, when the work of 
clearing and opening up was over and the 



128 A VOICE FROM 

struggle for accumulation began, again wo- 
man's inspiration and help were needed and 
still was she loyally at hand. A Mary Lyon, 
demanding and making possible equal advan- 
tages of education for women as for men, and, 
in the face of discouragement and incredulity, 
bequeathing to women the opportunities of 
Holyoke. 

A Dorothea Dix, insisting on the humane 
and rational treatment of the insane and 
bringing about a reform in the lunatic asylums 
of the country, making a great step forward 
in the tender regard for the weak by the 
strong throughout the world. 

A Helen Hunt Jackson, convicting the 
nation of a century of dishonor in regard to 
the Indian. 

A Lucretia Mott, gentle Quaker spirit, with 
sweet insistence, preaching the abolition of 
slavery and the institution, in its stead, of the 
brotherhood of man ; her life and words 
breathing out in tender melody the injunction 

" Have love. Not love alone for one 
But man as man thy brother call ; 
And scatter, like the circling sun, 
Thy charities on a//." 

And at the most trying time of what we have 
called the Accumulative Period, when inter- 



THE SOUTH. 129 

necine war, originated through man's love of 
gain and his determination to subordinate 
national interests and black men's rights alike 
to considerations of personal profit and loss, 
was drenching our country with its own best 
blood, who shall recount the name and fame 
of the women on both sides the senseless 
strife, — Hhose uncomplaining souls with a great 
heart ache of their own, rigid features and 
pallid cheek their ever effective flag of truce, 
on the battle field, in the camp, in the hospital, 
binding up wounds, recording dying whispers 
for absent loved ones, with tearful eyes point- 
ing to man's last refuge, giving the last earthly 
hand clasp and performing the last friendly 
office for strangers whom a great common 
sorrow had made kin, while they knew that 
somewhere — somewhere a husband, a brother, 
a father, a son, was being tended by stranger 
hands— or mayhap those familiar eyes were 
even then being closed forever by just such 
another ministering angel of mercy and love. 
But why mention names? Time would fail 
to tell of the noble army of women who shine 
like beacon lights in the otherwise sordid 
wilderness of this accumulative period — prison 
reformers and tenement cleansers, quiet un- 
noted workers in hospitals and homes, among 



130 A VOICE FROM 

imbeciles, among outcasts — the sweetening, 
purifying antidotes for the poisons of man's 
acquisitiveness, — mollifying and soothing with 
the tenderness of compassion and love the 
wounds and bruises caused by his overreaching 
and avarice. 

The desire for quick returns and large profits 
tempts capital ofttimes into unsanitary, well 
nigh inhuman investments, — tenement tinder 
boxes, stifling, stunting, sickening alleys and 
pestiferous slums ; regular rents, no waiting, 
large percentages, — rich coffers coined out of 
the life-blood of human bodies and souls. 
Men and women herded together like cattle, 
breathing in malaria and typhus from an at- 
mosphere seething with moral as well as 
physical impurity, revelling in vice as their 
native habitat and then, to drown the whis- 
perings of their higher consciousness and 
effectually to hush the yearnings and accusa- 
tions within, flying to narcotics and opiates — 
rum, tobacco, opium, binding hand and foot, 
body and soul, till the, proper image of God is 
transformed into a fit associate for demons, — 
a besotted, enervated, idiotic wreck, or else a 
monster of wickedness terrible and destructive. 

These are some of the legitimate products 
of the unmitigated tendencies of the wealth- 



THE SOUTH. 131 

producing period. But, thank Heaven, side 
by side with the cold, mathematical, selfishly 
calculating, so-called practical and unsenti- 
mental instinct of the business man, there 
comes the sympathetic warmth and sunshine 
of good women, like the sweet and sweetening 
breezes of spring, cleansing, purifying, sooth- 
ing, inspiring, lifting the drunkard from the 
gutter, the outcast from the pit. Who can 
estimate the influence of these "daughters of 
the king," these lend-a-hand forces, in coun- 
teracting the selfishness of an acquisitive age? 

To-day America counts her millionaires by 
the thousand; questions of tariff and questions 
of currency are the most vital ones agitating 
the public mind. In this period, when material 
prosperity and well earned ease and luxury 
are assured facts from a national standpoint, 
woman's work and woman's influence are 
needed as never before; needed to bring a 
heart power into this money getting, dollar- 
worshipping civilization; needed to bring a 
moral force into the utilitarian motives and 
interests of the time ; needed to stand for God 
and Home and Native Land versus gain and 
greed and grasping selfishness. 

There can be no doubt that this fourth cen- 
tenary of America's discovery which we cele- 



132 A VOICE FROM 

brate at Chicago, strikes the keynote of 
another important transition in the history of 
this nation ; and the prominence of woman in 
the management of its celebration is a fitting 
tribute to the part she is destined to play 
among the forces of the future. This is the 
first congressional recognition of woman in 
this country, and this Board of Lady Managers 
constitute the first women legally appointed 
by any government to act in a national capac- 
ity. This of itself marks the dawn of a new 
day. 

Now the periods of discovery, of settlement, 
of developing resources and accumulating 
wealth have passed in rapid succession. 
Wealth in the nation as in the individual 
brings leisure, repose, reflection. The struggle 
with nature is over, the struggle with ideas 
begins. We stand then, it seems to me, in 
this last decade of the nineteenth century, just 
in the portals of a new and untried movement 
on a higher plain and in a grander strain than 
any the past has called forth. It does not re- 
quire a prophet's eye to divine its trend and 
image its possibilities from the forces we see 
already at work around us; nor is it hard to 
guess what must be the status of woman's 
work under the new regime. 



THE SOUTH. 133 

In the pioneer days her role was that of a 
camp-follower, an additional something to 
fight for and be burdened with, only repaying 
the anxiety and labor she called forth by her 
own incomparable gifts of sympathy and ap- 
preciative love ; unable herself ordinarily to 
contend with the bear and the Indian, or to take 
active part in clearing the wilderness and con- 
structing the home. 

In the second or wealth producing period 
her work is abreast of man's, complementing 
and supplementing, counteracting excessive 
tendencies, and mollifying over rigorous pro- 
clivities. 

In the era now about to dawn, her senti- 
ments must strike the keynote and give the 
dominant tone. And this because of the 
nature of her contribution to the world. 

Her kingdom is not over physical forces. 
Not by might, nor by power can she prevail. 
Her position must ever be inferior where 
strength of muscle creates leadership. If she 
follows the instincts of her nature, however, 
she must always stand for the conservation of 
those deeper moral forces which make for the 
happiness of homes and the righteousness of 
the country. In a reign of moral ideas she is 
easily queen. 



lo4 A VOICE FROM 

There is to my mind no grander and surer 
prophecy of the new era and of woman's place 
in it, than the work already begun in the 
waning years of the nineteenth century by the 
W. C. T. U. in America, an organization which 
has even now reached not only national but 
international importance, and seems destined 
to permeate and purify the whole civilized 
world. It is the living embodiment of woman's 
activities and woman's ideas, and its extent 
and strength rightly prefigure her increasing 
power as a moral factor. 

The colored woman of to-day occupies, one 
may say, a unique position in this country. 
In a period of itself transitional and unsettled, 
her status seems one of the least ascertainable 
and definitive of all the forces which make 
for our civilization. She is confronted by 
both a woman question and a race problem, 
and is as yet an unknown or an unacknowl- 
edged factor in both. While the women of 
the white race can with calm assurance enter 
upon the work they feel by nature appointed 
to do, while their men give loyal support and 
appreciative countenance to their efforts, rec- 
ognizing in most avenues of usefulness the 
propriety and the need of woman's distinctive 
co-operation, the colored woman too often 



THE SOUTH. 135 

finds herself hampered and shamed by a less 
liberal sentiment and a more conservative at- 
titude on the part of those for whose opinion 
she cares most. That this is not universally 
true I am glad to admit. There are to be 
found both intensely conservative white men 
and exceedingly liberal colored men. But as 
far as my experience goes the average man of 
our race is less frequently ready to admit the 
actual need among the sturdier forces of the 
world for woman's help or influence. That 
great social and economic questions await her 
interference, that she could throw any light 
on problems of national import, that her in- 
termeddling could improve the management 
of school systems, or elevate the tone of public 
institutions, or humanize and sanctify the far 
reaching influence of prisons and reformato- 
ries and improve the treatment of lunatics 
and imbeciles, — that she has a word worth 
hearing on mooted questions in political econ- 
omy, that she could contribute a suggestion 
on the relations of labor and capital, or offer a 
thought on honest money and honorable trade, 
I fear the majority of " Americans of the col- 
ored variety " are not yet prepared to concede. 
It may be that they do not yet see these 
questions in their right perspective, being ab- 



136 A VOICE FROM 

sorbed in the immediate needs of their own 
political complications. A good deal depends 
on where we put the emphasis in this world ; 
and our men are not perhaps to blame if they 
see everything colored by the light of those 
agitations in the midst of which they live and 
move and have their being. The part they 
have had to play in American history during 
the last twenty -five or thirty years has tended 
rather to exaggerate the importance of mere 
political advantage, as well as to set a ficti- 
tious valuation on those able to secure such 
advantage. It is the astute politician, the 
manager who can gain preferment for himself 
and his favorites, the demagogue known to 
stand in with the powers at the White House 
and consulted on the bestowal of government 
plums, whom we set in high places and de- 
nominate great. It is they who receive the 
hosannas of the multitude and are regarded 
as leaders of the people. The thinker and the 
doer, the man who solves the problem by en- 
riching his country with an invention worth 
thousands or by a thought inestimable and 
precious is given neither bread nor a stone. 
He is too often left to die in obscurity and 
neglect even if spared in his life the bitterness 
of fanatical jealousies and detraction. 



THE SOUTH. 137 

And yet politics, and surely American 
politics, is hardly a school for great minds. 
Sharpening rather than deepening, it develops 
the faculty of taking advantage of present 
emergencies rather than the insight to distin- 
guish between the true and the false, the last- 
ing and the ephemeral advantage. Highly cul- 
tivated selfishness rather than consecrated 
benevolence is its passport to success. Its 
votaries are never seers. At best they are but 
manipulators — often only jugglers. It is con- 
ducive neither to profound statesmanship nor 
to the higher type of manhood. Altruism is 
its mauvais succes and naturally enough it is 
indifferent to any factor which cannot be 
worked into its own immediate aims and pur- 
poses. As woman's influence as a political 
element is as yet nil in most of the common- 
wealths of our republic, it is not surprising 
that with those who place the emphasis on 
mere political capital she may yet seem almost 
a nonentity so far as it concerns the solution 
of great national or even racial perplexities. 

There are those, however, who value the 
calm elevation of the thoughtful spectator 
who stands aloof from the heated scramble; 
and, above the turmoil and din of corruption 
and selfishness, can listen to the teachings of 



138 A VOICE FROM 

eternal truth and righteousness. There are 
even those who feel that the black man's un- 
just and unlawful exclusion temporarily from 
participation in the elective franchise in cer- 
tain states is after all but a lesson " in the 
desert" fitted to develop in him insight and 
discrimination against the day of his own ap- 
pointed time. One needs occasionally to stand 
aside from the hum and rush of human inter- 
ests and passions to hear the voices of God. 
And it not unfrequently happens that the All- 
loving gives a great push to certain souls to 
thrust them out, as it were, from the distract- 
ing current for awhile to promote their disci- 
pline and growth, or to enrich them by 
communion and reflection. And similarly it 
may be woman's privilege from her peculiar 
coigne of vantage as a quiet observer, to 
whisper just the needed suggestion or the 
almost forgotten truth. The colored woman, 
then, should not be ignored because her bark 
is resting in the silent waters of the sheltered 
cove. She is watching the movements of the 
contestants none the less and is all the better 
qualified, perhaps, to weigh and judge and ad- 
vise because not herself in the excitement of 
the race. Her voice, too, has always been 
heard in clear, unfaltering tones, ringing the 



THE SOUTH. 139 

changes on those deeper interests which make 
for permanent good. . She is always sound and 
orthodox on questions affecting the well-being 
of her race. You do not find the colored 
woman selling her birthright for a mess ot 
pottage. Nay, even after reason has retired 
from the contest, she has been known to cling 
blindly with the instinct of a turtle dove to 
those principles and policies which to her 
mind promise hope and safety for children yet 
unborn. It is notorious that ignorant black 
women in the South have actually left their 
husbands' homes and repudiated their support 
for what was understood by the wife to be 
race disloyalty, or " voting away," as she ex- 
presses it, the privileges of herself and little 
ones. 

It is largely our women in the South to-day 
who keep the black men solid in the Republi- 
can party. The latter as they increase in in- 
telligence and power of discrimination would 
be more apt to divide on local issues at any 
rate. They begin to see that the Grand Old 
Party regards the Negro's cause as an out- 
grown issue, and on Southern soil at least 
finds a too intimate acquaintanceship with 
him a somewhat unsavory recommendation. 
Then, too, their political wits have been sharp- 



140 A VOICE FROM 

ened to appreciate the fact that it is good 
policy to cultivate one's neighbors and not de- 
pend too much on a distant friend to fight 
one's home battles. But the black woman 
can never forget — however lukewarm the 
party may to-day appear — that it was a Re- 
publican president who struck the manacles 
from her own wrists and gave the possibilities 
of manhood to her helpless little ones ; and to 
her mind a Democratic Negro is a traitor and 
a time-server. Talk as much as you like of 
venality and manipulation in the South, there 
are not many men, I can tell you, who would 
dare face a wife quivering in every fiber with 
the consciousness that her husband is a coward 
who could be paid to desert her deepest and 
dearest interests. 

Not unfelt, then, if unproclaimed has been 
the work and influence of the colored women 
of America. Our list of chieftains in the ser- 
vice, though not long, is not inferior in 
strength and excellence, I dare believe, to any 
similar list which this country can produce. 

Among the pioneers, Frances Watkins Har- 
per could sing with prophetic exaltation in 
the darkest days, when as yet there was not a 
rift in the clouds overhanging her people : 



THE SOUTH. 141 

"Yes, Ethiopia shall stretch 
Her bleeding hands abroad ; 

Her cry of agony shall reach the burning throne of God. 
Redeemed from dust and freed from chains 

Her sons shall lift their eyes, 
From cloud-capt hills and verdant plains 
Shall shouts of triumph rise." 

Among preachers of righteousness, an un- 
answerable silencer of cavilers and objectors, 
was Sojourner Truth, that unique and rugged 
genius who seemed carved out without hand 
or chisel from the solid mountain mass ; and 
in pleasing contrast, Amanda Smith, sweetest 
of natural singers and pleaders in dulcet tones 
for the things of God and of His Christ. 

Sarah Woodson Early and Martha Briggs, 
planting and watering in the school room, 
and giving off from their matchless and irre- 
sistible personality an impetus and inspiration 
which can never die so long as there lives and 
breathes a remote descendant of their disciples 
and friends. 

Charlotte Fortin Grimke, the gentle spirit 
whose verses and life link her so beautifully 
with America's great Quaker poet and loving 
reformer. 

Hallie Quinn Brown, charming reader, earn- 
est, effective lecturer and devoted worker of 
unflagging zeal and unquestioned power. 



142 A VOICE FROM 

Fannie Jackson Ooppin, the teacher and or- 
ganizer, pre-eminent among women of what- 
ever country or race in constructive and 
executive force. 

These women represent all shades of belief 
and as many departments of activity ; but they 
have one thing in common — their sympathy 
with the oppressed race in America and the 
consecration of their several talents in what- 
ever line to the work of its deliverance and 
development. 

Fifty years ago woman's activity according 
to orthodox definitions was on a pretty clearly, 
cut " sphere," including primarily the kitchen 
and the nursery, and rescued from the barren- 
ness of prison bars by the womanly mania for 
adorning every discoverable bit of china or 
canvass with forlorn looking cranes balanced 
idiotically on one foot. The woman of to-day 
finds herself in the presence of responsibilities 
which ramify through the profoundest and 
most varied interests of her country and race. 
Not one of the issues of this plodding, toiling, 
sinning, repenting, falling, aspiring humanity 
can afford to shut her out, or can deny the 
reality of her influence. No plan for renovat- 
ing society, no scheme for purifying politics, 
no reform in church or in state, no moral, 



THE SOUTH. 143 

social, or economic question, no movement 
upward or downward in the human plane is 
lost on her. A man once said when told his 
house was afire : " Go tell my wife ; I never 
meddle with household affairs." But no wo- 
man can possibly put herself or her sex out- 
side any of the interests that affect humanity. 
All departments in the new era are to be hers, 
in the sense that her interests are in all and 
through all; and it is incumbent on her to 
keep intelligently and sympathetically en rap- 
port with all the great movements of her time, 
that she may know on which side to throw' 
the weight of her influence. She stands now 
at the gateway of this new era of American 
civilization. In her hands must be moulded 
the strength, the wit, the statesmanship, the 
morality, all the psychic force, the social and 
economic intercourse of that era. To be alive 
at such an epoch is a privilege, to be a woman 
then is sublime. 

In this last decade of our century, changes 
of such moment are in progress, such new and 
alluring vistas are opening out before us, such 
original and radical suggestions for the adjust- 
ment of labor and capital, of government and 
the governed, of the family, the church and the 
state, that to be a possible factor though an 



144 A VOICE FROM 

infinitesimal in such a movement is pregnant 
with hope and weighty with responsibility. 
To be a woman in such an age carries with it 
a privilege and an opportunity never implied 
before. But to be a woman of the Negro race 
in America, and to be able to grasp the deep 
significance of the possibilities of the crisis, is 
to have a heritage, it seems to me, unique in 
the ages. In the first place, the race is young 
and full of the elasticity and hopefulness of 
youth. All its achievements are before it. It 
does not look on the masterly triumphs of 
nineteenth century civilization with that blase 
world-weary look which characterizes the old 
washed out and worn out races which have 
already, so to speak, seen their best days. 

Said a European writer recently : " Except 
the Sclavonic, the Negro is the only original 
and distinctive genius which has yet to come 
to growth — and the feeling is to cherish and 
develop it." 

Everything to this race is new and strange 
and inspiring. There is a quickening of its 
pulses and a glowing of its self-consciousness. 
Aha, I can rival that! I can aspire to that ! 
I can honor my name and vindicate my race ! 
Something like this, it strikes me, is the en- 
thusiasm which stirs the genius of young 



THE SOUTH. 145 

Africa in America ; and the memory of past 
oppression and the fact of present attempted 
repression only serve to gather momentum for 
its irrepressible powers. Then again, a race 
in such a stage of growth is peculiarly sensitive 
to impressions. Not the photographer's sensi- 
tized plate is more delicately impressionable to 
outer influences than is this high strung people 
here on the threshold of a career. 

What a responsibility then to have the sole 
management of the primal lights and shadows! 
Such is the colored woman's office. She must 
stamp weal or woe on the coming history of 
this people. May she see her opportunity and 
vindicate her high prerogative. 



TUTTI AD LIBITUM- 



A People is but the attempt of many 
To rise to the completer life of one. 

* * * 

The common Problem, yours, mine, every one's 
Is— not to fancy what were fair in life 
Provided it could be,— but, finding first 
What may be, then find how to make it fair 
Up to our means ; a very different thing ! 

— Robert Browning. 

The greatest question in the world is how to give every man a 
man's share in what goes on in life— we want a freeman's share, and 
that is to think and speak and act about what concerns us all, and see 
whether these fine gentlemen who undertake to govern us are doing the 
best they can for us.— Felix Holt. 



THE SOUTH 149 



HAS AMERICA A RACE PROBLEM ; IF 

SO, HOW CAN IT BEST BE 
SOLVED? 



HERE are two kinds of peace in this 
world. The one produced by suppression, 
which is the passivity of death; the other 
brought about by a proper adjustment of liv- 
ing, acting forces. A nation or an individual 
may be at peace because all opponents have 
been killed or crushed; or, nation as well as 
individual may have found the secret of true 
harmony in the determination to live and let 
live. 

A harmless looking man was once asked 
how many there were in his family. 

" Ten," he replied grimly ; " my wife's a one 
and I a zero." In that family there was har- 
mony, to be sure, but it was the harmony of a 
despotism — it was the quiet of a muzzled 



150 A VOICE FROM 

mouth, the smoldering peace of a volcano 
crusted over. 

Now I need not say that peace produced by 
suppression is neither natural nor desirable. 
Despotism is not one of the ideas that man 
has copied from nature. All through God's 
universe we see eternal harmony and symme- 
try as the unvarying result of the equilibrium 
of opposing forces. Fair play in an equal fight 
is the law written in Nature's book. And the 
solitary bully with his foot on the breast of his 
last antagonist has no warrant in any fact of 
God. 

The beautiful curves described by planets 
and suns in their courses are the resultant of 
conflicting forces. Could the centrifugal force 
for one instant triumph, or should the centri- 
petal grow weary and give up the struggle, 
immeasurable disaster would ensue — earth, 
moon, sun would go spinning off at a tangent 
or must fall helplessly into its master sphere. 
The acid counterbalances and keeps in order 
the alkali ; the negative, the positive electrode. 
A proper equilibrium between a most inflam- 
mable explosive and the supporter of combus- 
tion, gives us water, the bland fluid that we 
cannot dispense with. Nay, the very air we 
breathe, which seems so calm, so peaceful, is 



THE SOUTH. 151 

rendered innocuous only by the constant con- 
flict of opposing gases. Were the fiery, never- 
resting, all-corrodihg oxygen to gain the mas- 
tery we should be burnt to cinders in a trice. 
With the sluggish, inert nitrogen triumphant, 
we should die of inanition. 

These facts are only a suggestion of what 
must be patent to every student of history. 
Progressive peace in a nation is the result of 
conflict; and conflict, such as is healthy, stim- 
ulating, and progressive, is produced through 
the co-existence of radically opposing or 
racially different elements. Bellamy's ox-like 
men pictured in Looking Backward, taking 
their daily modicum of provender from the 
grandmotherly government, with nothing to 
struggle for, no wrong to put down, no reform 
to push through, no rights to vindicate and 
uphold, are nice folks to read about ; but they 
are not natural; they are not progressive. 
God's world is not governed that way. The 
child can never gain strength save by resist- 
ance, and there can be no resistance if all 
movement is in one direction and all opposi- 
tion made forever an impossibility. 

I confess I can see no deeper reason than 
this for the specializing of racial types in the 
world. Whatever our theory with reference 



152 A VOICE FROM 

to the origin of species and the unity of man- 
kind, we cannot help admitting the fact that 
no sooner does a family of the human race 
take up its abode in some little nook between 
mountains, or on some plain walled in by their 
own hands, no sooner do they begin in earnest 
to live their own life, think their own thoughts, 
and tpace out their own arts, than they begin 
also to crystallize some idea different from 
and generally opposed to that of other tribes 
or families. 

Each race has its badge, its exponent, its 
message, branded in its forehead by the great 
Master's hand which is its own peculiar key- 
note, and its contribution to the harmony of 
nations. 

Left entirely alone, — out of contact, that is 
with other races and their opposing ideas and 
conflicting tendencies, this cult is abnormally 
developed and there is unity without variety, 
a predominance of one tone at the expense ol 
moderation and harmony, and finally a same- 
ness, a monotonous dullness which means 
stagnation, — death. 

It is this of which M. Guizot complains in 
Asiatic types of civilization ; and in each case 
he mentions I note that there was but one 
race, one free force predominating. 



THE SOUTH. 153 

In Lect. II. Hist, of Civ. he says : 
" In Egypt the theocratic principle took pos- 
session of society and showed itself in its man- 
ners, its monuments and in all that has come 
down to us of Egyptian civilization. In India 
the same phenomenon occurs — a repetition of 
the almost exclusively prevailing influence of 
theocracy. In other regions the domination 
of a conquering caste ; where such is the case 
the principle of force takes entire possession 
of society. In another place we discover 
society under the entire influence of the dem- 
ocratic principle. Such was the case in the 
commercial republics which covered the coasts 
ot Asia Minor and Syria, in Ionia and Phoeni- 
cia. In a word whenever we contemplate the 
civilization of the ancients, we find them all 
impressed with one ever prevailing character of 
unity, visible in their institutions, their ideas 
and manners ; one sole influence seems to govern 

and determine all things In one nation, 

as in Greece, the unity of the social principle 
led to a development of wonderful rapidity ; 
no other people ever ran so brilliant a career 
in so short a time. But Greece had hardly 
become glorious before she appeared worn 
out. Her decline was as sudden as her rise had 
been rapid. It seems as if the principle which 



154 A VOICE FROM 

called Greek civilization into life was ex- 
hausted. No other came to invigorate it or 
supply its place. In India and Egypt where 
again only one principle of civilization pre- 
vailed {one race predominant you see) society 
became stationary. Simplicity produced mo- 
notony. Society continued to exist, but there 
was no progression. It remained torpid and 
inactive." 

Now I beg you to note that in none of these 
systems was a Race Problem possible. The 
dominant race had settled that matter forever. 
Asiatic society was fixed in cast iron molds. 
Virtually there was but one race inspiring and 
molding the thought, the art, the literature, 
the government. It was against this shrivel- 
ling caste prejudice and intolerance that the 
zealous Buddha set his face like a flint. And 
I do not think it was all blasphemy in Renan 
when he said Jesus Christ was first of demo- 
crats, i. e., a believer in the royalty of the in- 
dividual, a preacher of the brotherhood of 
man through the fatherhood of God, a teacher 
who proved that the lines on which worlds are 
said to revolve are imaginary, that for all the 
distinctions of blue blood and black blood and 
red blood — a man's a man for a 7 that. Buddha 
and the Christ, each in his own way, wrought 



THE SOUTH. 155 

to rend asunder the clamps and bands of caste, 
and to thaw out the ice of race tyranny and 
exclusiveness. The Brahmin, who was Aryan, 
spurned a suggestion even, from the Sudra, 
who belonged to the hated and proscribed 
Turanian race. With a Pariah he could not 
eat or drink. They were to him outcasts and 
unclean. Association with them meant con- 
tamination ; the hint of their social equality 
was blasphemous. Respectful consideration 
for their rights and feelings was almost a 
physical no less than a moral impossibility. 

No more could the Helots among the Greeks 
have been said to contribute anything to the 
movement of their times. The dominant race 
had them effectually under its heel. It was 
the tyranny and exclusiveness of these nations, 
therefore, which brought about their immo- 
bility and resulted finally in the barrenness of 
their one idea. From this came the poverty 
and decay underlying their civilization, from 
this the transitory, ephemeral character of its 
brilliancy. 

To quote Guizot again : " Society belonged 
to one exclusive power which could bear with 
no other. Every principle of a different ten- 
dency was proscribed. The governing prin- 
ciple would nowhere suffer by its side the 



156 A VOICE FROM 

manifestation and influence of a rival princi- 
ple. This character of unity in their civiliza- 
tion is equally impressed upon their literature 
and intellectual productions. Those monu- 
ments of Hindoo literature lately introduced 
into Europe seem all struck from the same 
die. They all seem the result of one same 
fact, the expression of one idea. Relig- 
ious and moral treatises, historical traditions, 
dramatic poetry, epics, all bear the same 
physiognomy. The san^e character of unity 
and monotony shines out in these works 
of mind and fancy, as we discover in 
their life and institutions." Not even Greece 
with all its classic treasures is made an excep- 
tion from these limitations produced by ex- 
clusivness. 

But the course of empire moves one degree 
westward. Europe becomes the theater of the 
leading exponents of civilization, and here we 
have a Race Problem, — if, indeed, the confused 
jumble of races, the clash and conflict, the din 
and devastation of those stormy years can be 
referred to by so quiet and so dignified a term 
as "problem." Complex and appalling it 
surely was. Goths and Huns, Vandals and 
Danes, Angles, Saxons, Jutes — could any 
prophet foresee that a vestige of law and order, 



THE SOUTH. 157 

of civilization and refinement would remain 
after this clumsy horde of wild barbarians had 
swept over Europe ? 

" Where is somebody'll give me some white 
for all this yellow ? " cries one with his hands 
full of the gold from one of those magnificent 
monuments of antiquity which he and his 
tribe had just pillaged and demolished. Says 
the historian : " Their history is like a history 
of kites and crows." Tacitus writes : " To 
shout, to drink, to caper about, to feel their 
veins heated and swollen with wine, to hear 
and see around them the riot of the orgy, this 
was the first need of the barbarians. The 
heavy human brute gluts himself with sensa- 
tions and with noise." 

Taine describes them as follows : 

" Huge white bodies, cool-blooded, with 
fierce blue eyes, reddish flaxen hair; ravenous 
stomachs, filled with meat and cheese, heated 
by strong drinks. Brutal drunken pirates and 
robbers, they dashed to sea in their two-sailed 
barks, landed anywhere, killed everything; 
and, having sacrificed in honor of their gods 
the tithe of all their prisoners,, leaving behind 
the red light of their burning, went farther on 
to begin again." 

A certain litany of the time reads : " From 



158 A VOICE FROM 

the fury of the Jutes, Good Lord deliver us." 
" Elgiva, the wife of one of their kings," says 
a chronicler of the time, " they hamstrung 
and subjected to the death she deserved ; " and 
their heroes are frequently represented as 
tearing out the heart of their human victim 
and eating it while it still quivered with life. 

A historian of the time, quoted by Taine, 
says it was the custom to buy men and women 
in all parts of England and to carry them to 
Ireland for sale. The buyers usually made the 
women pregnant and took them to market in 
that condition to ensure a better price. " You 
might have $een," continues the historian, 
"long files of young people of both sexes and 
of great beauty, bound with ropes and daily 
exposed for sale. They sold as slaves in this 
manner, fheir nearest relatives and even their 
own children." 

What could civilization hope to do with 
such a swarm of sensuous, bloodthirsty vipers ? 
Assimilation was horrible to contemplate. 
They will drag us to their level, quoth the 
culture of the times. Deportation was out of 
the question; and there was no need to talk 
of their emigrating. The fact is, the barbar- 
ians were in no hurry about moving. They 
didn't even care to colonize. They had come 



THE SOUTH. 159 

to stay. And Europe had to grapple with 
her race problem till time and God should 
solve it. 

And how was it solved, and what kind of 
civilization resulted? 

Once more let us go to Guizot. " Take ever 
so rapid a glance," says he, " at modern Europe 
and it strikes you at once as diversified, con- 
fused, and stormy. All the principles of social 
organization are found existing together within 
it ; powers temporal, and powers spiritual, the 
theocratic, monarchic, aristocratic, and demo- 
cratic elements, all classes of society in a state 
of continual struggle without any one having 
sufficient force to master the others and take 
sole possession of society." Then as to the 
result of this conflict of forces : " Incompar- 
ably more rich and diversified than the ancient, 
European civilization has within it the prom- 
ise of perpetual progress. It has now endured 
more than fifteen centuries and in all that 
time has been in a state of progression, not so 
rapidly as the Greek nor yet so ephemeral. 
While in other civilizations the exclusive 
domination of a principle (or race) led to 
tyranny, in Europe the diversity of social ele- 
ments (groioing out of the contact of different 
races) the incapability of any one to exclude 



KiO A VOICE FROM 

the rest, gave birth to the liberty which now 
prevails. This inability of the various prin- 
ciples to exterminate one another compelled 
each to endure the others and made it neces- 
sary for them in order to live in common to 
enter into a sort of mutual understanding. 
Each consented to have only that part of civ- 
ilization which equitably fell to its share. 
Thus, while everywhere else the predominance 
of one principle produced tyranny, the variety 
and warfare of the elements of European civ- 
ilization gave birth to reciprocity and liberty." 

There is no need to quote further. This is 
enough to show that the law holds good in 
sociology as in the world of matter, that equi- 
librium, not repression among conflicting forces 
is the condition of natural harmony, of permanent 
progress, and of universal freedom. That ex- 
clusiveness and selfishness in a family, in a 
community, or in a nation is suicidal to pro- 
gress. Caste and prejudice mean immobility. 
One race predominance means death. The 
community that closes its gates against foreign 
talent can never hope to advance beyond a 
certain point. Resolve to keep out foreigners 
and you keep out progress. Home talent de- 
velops its one idea and then dies. Like the 
century plant it produces its one flower, bril- 



THE SOUTH. 161 

liant and beautiful it may be, but it lasts only 
for a night. Its forces have exhausted them- 
selves in that one effort. Nothing remains 
but to wither and to rot. 

It was the Chinese wall that made China in 
1800 A. D. the same as China in the days of 
Confucius. Its women have not even yet 
learned that they need not bandage their feet 
if they do not relish it. The world has rolled 
on, but within that wall the thoughts, the 
fashions, the art, the tradition, and the beliefs 
are those of a thousand years ago. Until 
very recently, the Chinese were wholly out of 
the current of human progress. They were 
like gray headed infants — a man of eighty 
years with the concepts and imaginings of a 
babe of eight months. A civilization meas- 
ured by thousands of years with a develop- 
ment that might be comprised within as many 
days — arrested development due to exclusive 
living. 

But European civilization, rich as it was 
compared to Asiatic types, was still not the 
consummation of the ideal of human possi- 
bilities. One more degree westward the hand 
on the dial points. In Europe there was con- 
flict, but the elements crystallized out in 
isolated nodules, so to speak. Italy has her 



162 A VOICE FROM 

dominant principle, Spain hers, France hers, 
England hers, and so on. The proximity is 
close, enough for interaction and mutual re- 
straint, though the acting forces are at differ- 
ent points. To preserve the balance of power, 
which is nothing more than the equilibrium 
of warring elements, England can be trusted 
to keep an eye on her beloved step-relation-in- 
law, Russia, — and Germany no doubt can be 
relied on to look after France and some others. 
It is not, however, till the scene changes and 
America is made the theater of action, that the 
interplay of forces narrowed down to a single 
platform. 

Hither came Cavalier and Roundhead, Bap- 
tist and Papist, Quaker, Ritualist, Freethinker 
and Mormon, the conservative Tory, the lib- 
eral Whig, and the radical Independent, — the 
Spaniard, the Frenchman, the Englishman, 
the Italian, the Chinaman, the African, Swedes, 
Russians, Huns, Bohemians, Gypsies, Irish, 
Jews. Here surely was a seething caldron of 
conflicting elements. Religious intolerance 
and political hatred, race prejudice and caste 
pride — 

" Double, double, toil and trouble ; 
Fire burn and cauldron bubble." 

Conflict, Conflict, Conflict. 



tTHE SOUTH. 163 

America for Americans ! This is the white 
man's country ! The Chinese must go, shrieks 
the exclusionist. Exclude the Italians ! Col- 
onize the blacks in Mexico or deport them to 
Africa. Lynch, suppress, drive out, kill out ! 
America for Americans ! 

" Who are Americans ?" comes rolling back 
from ten million throats. Who are to do the 
packing and delivering of the goods ? Who 
are the homefolks and who are the strangers ? 
Who are the absolute and original tenants in 
fee-simple ? 

The red men used to be owners of the soil, 
— but they are about to be pushed over into 
the Pacific Ocean. They, perhaps, have the 
best right to call themselves " Americans " 
by law of primogeniture. They are at least 
the oldest inhabitants of whom we can at 
present identify a*iy traces. If early settlers 
from abroad merely are meant and it is only 
a question of squatters' rights — why, the May- 
flower, a pretty venerable institution, landed 
in the year of Grace 1620, and the first dele- 
gation from Africa just one year ahead of 
that, — in 1819. The first settlers seem to have 
been almost as much mixed as we are on this 
point ; and it does not seem at all easy to de- 
cide just what individuals we mean when we 



1()4 A VOICE FROM 

yell " America for the Americans." At least 
the cleavage cannot be made by hues and 
noses, if we are to seek for the genuine F. F. 
V.'s as the inhabitants best entitled to the 
honor of that name. 

The fact is this nation was foreordained to 
conflict from its incipiency. Its elements 
were predestined from their birth to an irre- 
pressible clash followed by the stable equilib- 
rium of opposition. Exclusive possession be- 
longs to none. There never was a point in its 
history when it did. There was never a time 
since America became a nation when there 
were not more than one race, more than one 
party, more than one belief contending for 
supremacy. Hence no one is or can be su- 
preme. All interests must be consulted, all 
claims conciliated. Where a hundred free 
forces are lustily clamoring for recognition 
and each wrestling mightily for the mastery, 
individual tyrannies must inevitably be chis- 
elled down, individual bigotries worn smooth 
and malleable, individual prejudices either 
obliterated or concealed. America is not 
from choice more than of necessity republic 
in form and democratic in administration. 
The will of the majority must rule simply be- 
cause no class, no family, no individual has 



THE SOUTH. 165 

ever been able to prove sufficient political 
legitimacy to impose their yoke on the coun- 
try. All attempts at establishing oligarchy 
must be made by wheedling and cajoling, pre- 
tending that not supremacy but service is 
sought. The nearest approach to outspoken 
self-assertion is in the conciliatory tones of 
candid compromise. " I will let you enjoy 
that if you will not hinder me in the pursuit 
of this " has been the American sovereign's 
home policy since his first Declaration of In- 
dependence was inscribed as his policy abroad. 
Compromise and concession, liberality and 
toleration were the conditions of the nation's 
birth and are the sine qua non of its con- 
tinued existence. A general amnesty and 
universal reciprocity are the only modus vivendi 
in a nation whose every citizen is his own 
king, his own priest and his own pope. 

De Tocqueville, years ago, predicted that 
republicanism must fail in America. But 
if republicanism fails, America fails, and some- 
how I can not think this colossal stage was 
erected for a tragedy. I must confess to be- 
ing an optimist on the subject of my country. 
It is true we are too busy making history, 
and have been for some years past, to be able 
to write history yet, or to understand and in- 



166 A VOICE FROM 

terpret it. Our range of vision is too short 
for us to focus and image our conflicts. In- 
deed Von Holtz, the clearest headed of calm 
spectators, says he doubts if the history of 
American conflict can be written yet even by 
a disinterested foreigner. The clashing of 
arms and the din of battle, the smoke of can- 
non and the heat of combat, are not yet 
cleared away sufficiently for us to have the 
judicial vision of historians. Our jottings are 
like newspaper reports written in the saddle, 
mid prancing steeds and roaring artillery. 

But of one thing we may be sure : the God 
of battles is in the conflicts of history. The 
evolution of civilization is His care, eternal 
progress His delight. As the European was 
higher and grander than the Asiatic, so will 
American civilization be broader and deeper 
and closer to the purposes of the Eternal than 
any the world has yet seen. This the last 
page is to mark the climax of history, the 
bright consummate flower unfolding charity 
toward all and malice toward none, — the final 
triumph of universal reciprocity born of uni- 
versal conflict with forces that cannot be ex- 
terminated. Here at last is an arena in which 
every agony has a voice and free speech. Not 
a spot where no wrong can exist, but where 



THE SOUTH 167 

each feeblest interest can cry with Themisto- 
cles, "Strike, but hear me I" Here you will 
not see as in Germany women hitched to a 
cart with donkeys; not perhaps because men 
are more chivalrous here than there, but be- 
cause woman can speak. Here labor will not 
be starved and ground to powder, because the 
laboring man can make himself heard. Here 
races that are weakest can, if they so elect, make 
themselves felt. 

The supremacy of one race, — the despotism 
of a class or the tyranny of an individual can 
not ultimately prevail on a continent held in 
equilibrium by such conflicting forces and by 
so many and such strong fibred races as there 
are struggling on this soil. Never in America 
shall one man dare to say as Germany's some- 
what bumptious emperor is fond of proclaim- 
ing : " There is only one master in the country 
and I am he. I shall sutler no other beside 
me. Only to God and my conscience am I 
accountable/' The strength of the opposition 
tones down and polishes off* all such ugly ex- 
crescencies as that. "I am the State," will 
never be proclaimed above a whisper on a 
platform where there is within arm's length 
another just as strong, possibly stronger, who 
holds, or would like to hold that identical 



168 A VOICE FROM 

proposition with reference to himself. In this 
arena then is to be the last death struggle of 
political tyranny, of religious bigotry, and in- 
tellectual intolerance, of caste illiberality and 
class exclusiveness. And the last monster that 
shall be throttled forever methinks is race 
prejudice. Men will here learn that a race, as 
a family, may be true to itself without seeking 
to exterminate all others. That for the note 
of the feeblest there is room, nay a positive 
need, in the harmonies of God. That the 
principles of true democracy are founded in 
universal reciprocity, and that "A man's a 
man " was written when God first stamped 
His own image and superscription on His 
child and breathed into his nostrils the breath 
of life. And I confess I can pray for no nobler 
destiny for my country than that it may be 
the stage, however far distant in the future, 
whereon these ideas and principles shall ulti- 
mately mature; and culminating here at what- 
ever cost of production shall go forth hence to 
dominate the world. 

Methought I saw a mighty conflagration, 
plunging and heaving, surging and seething, 
smoking and rolling over this American con- 
tinent. Strong men and wise men stand help- 
less in mute consternation. Empty headed 



THE SOUTH. 169 

c 

babblers add the din of their bray to the crash- 
ing and crackling of the flames. But the 
hungry flood rolls on. The air is black with 
smoke and cinders. The sky is red with lurid 
light. Forked tongues of fiery flame dart up 
and lick the pale stars, and seem to laugh at 
men's feebleness and frenzy. As I look on I 
think of Schiller's sublime characterization of 
fire : " Frightful becomes this God-power, 
when it snatches itself free from fetters and 
stalks majestically forth on its own career — 
the free daughter of Nature." Ingenuity is 
busy with newly patented snuffers all war- 
ranted to extinguish the lame. The street 
gamin with a hooked wire pulls out a few 
nuggets that chanced to be lying on the out- 
skirts where they were cooked by the heat ; 
and gleefully cries " What a nice fire to roast 
my chestnuts," and like little Jack Horner, 
" what a nice boy am I ! " 

Meantime this expedient, that expedient, 
the other expedient is suggested by thinkers 
and theorizers hoping to stifle the angry, roar- 
ing, devouring demon and allay the mad 
destruction. 

" Wehe wenn sie losgelassen, 

Wachsend ohne Widerstand, 
Durch die volkbelebten Gassen 
Walzt den ungeheuren Brand!" 



170 A VOICE FROM 

But the strength of the Omnipotent is in it. 
The hand of God is leading it on. It matters 
not whether you and I in mad desperation 
cast our quivering bodies into it as our funeral 
pyre ; or whether, like the street urchins, we 
pull wires to secure the advantage of the pass- 
ing moment. We can neither help it nor 
hinder; only 

" Let thy gold be cast in the furnace, 
Thy red gold, precious and bright. 
Do not fear the hungry fire 

With its caverns of burning light." 

If it takes the dearest idol, the pet theory or 
the darling 'ism', the pride, the selfishness, 
the prejudices, the exclusiveness, the bigotry 
and intolerance, the conceit of self, of race, or 
of family superiority, — nay, if it singe from 
thee thy personal gratifications in thy distinc- 
tion by birth, by blood, by sex — everything, — 
and leave thee nothing but thy naked man- 
hood, solitary and unadorned, — let them go — 
let them go ! 

" And thy gold shall return more precious, 
Free from every spot and stain, 
For gold must be tried by fire." 

And the heart of nations must be tried by 
pain; and their polish, their true culture must 
be wrought in through conflict. 



THE SOUTH. 171 

Has America a Race Problem ? 

Yes. 

What are you going to do about it? 

Let it alone and mind my own business. It 
is God's problem and He will solve it in time. 
It is deeper than Gehenna. What can you or 
I do! 

Are there then no duties and special lines of 
thought growing out of the present conditions 
of this problem ? 

Certainly there are. Imprimis; let every 
element of the conflict see that it represent a 
positive force so as to preserve a proper equi- 
poise in the conflict. No shirking, no skulk- 
ing, no masquerading in another's uniform. 
Stand by your guns. i)Lnd be ready for the 
charge. The day is coming, and now is, when 
America must ask each citizen not " who was 
your grandfather and what the color of his 
cuticle," but " What can you do ?" Be ready 
each individual element, — each race, each class, 
each family, each man to reply u I engage to 
undertake an honest man's share." 

God and time will work the problem. You 
and I are only to stand for the quantities at 
their best, which he means us to represent. 

Above all, for the love of humanity stop the 
month of those learned theorizers, the expe- 



All A VOICE FROM 

dient mongers, who come out annually with 
their new and improved method of getting the 
answer and clearing the slate: amalgamation, 
deportation, colonization and all the other 
ations that were ever devised or dreampt of. 
If Alexander wants to be a god, let him; but 
don't have Alexander hawking his patent plan 
for universal deification. If all could or would 
follow Alexander's plan, just the niche in the 
divine cosmos meant for man would be vacant. 
And we think that men have a part to play in 
this great drama no less than gods, and so 
if a few are determined to be white — amen, so 
be it ; but don't let them argue as if there 
were no part to be played in life by black 
men and black women, and as if to become 
white were the sole specific and panacea for 
all the ills that flesh is heir to — -the universal 
solvent for all America's irritations. And 
again, if an American family of whatever con- 
dition or hue takes a notion to reside in Africa 
or in Mexico, or in the isles of the sea, it is 
most un-American for any power on this con- 
tinent to seek to gainsay or obstruct their de- 
parture 5 but on the other hand, no power or 
element of power on this continent, least of all 
a self-constituted tribunal of " recent arrivals," 
dossesses the right to begin figuring before- 



THE SOUTH. 173 

hand to calculate what it would require to send 
ten millions of citizens, whose ancestors have 
wrought here from the planting of the nation, 
to the same places at so much per head — at 
least till some one has consulted those heads. 
We would not deprecate the fact, then, that 
America has a Race Problem. It is guaranty 
of the perpetuity and progress of her institu- 
tions, and insures the breadth of her culture 
and the symmetry of her development. More 
than all, let us not disparage the factor which 
the Negro is appointed to contribute to that 
problem. America needs the Negro for ballast 
if for nothing else. His tropical warmth and 
spontaneous emotionalism may form no un- 
seemly counterpart to the cold and calculating 
Anglo-Saxon. And then his instinct for law 
and order, his inborn respect for authority, his 
inaptitude for rioting and anarchy, his gentle- 
ness and cheerfulness as a laborer, and his 
deeprrooted faith in God will prove indis- 
pensable and invaluable elements in a nation 
menaced as America is by anarchy, socialism, 
communism, and skepticism poured in with 
all the jail birds from the continents of Europe 
and Asia. I believe with our own Dr. Crum- 
mell that " the Almighty does not preserve, 
rescue, and build up a lowly people merely for 



174 A VOICE FROM 

ignoble ends." And the historian of American 
civilization will yet congratulate this country 
that she has had a Race Problem and that 
descendants of the black race furnished one 
of its largest factors. 



THE SOUTH. 175 



ONE PHASE OF AMERICAN 
LITERATURE. 



FOR nations as for individuals, a product, 
to be worthy the term literature, must con- 
tain something characteristic and sui generis. 

So long as America remained a mere Eng- 
lish colony, drawing all her life and inspira- 
tion from the mother country, it may well be 
questioned whether there was such a thing as 
American literature. " Who ever reads an 
American book ? " it was scornfully asked in 
the eighteenth century. Imitation is the 
worst of suicides ; it cuts the nerve of origin- 
ality and condemns to mediocrity : and 'twas 
not till the pen of our writers was dipped in 
the life blood of their own nation and pictured 
out its own peculiar heart throbs and agonies 
that the world cared to listen. The nightin- 
gale and the skylark had to give place to the 
mocking bird, the bobolink and the whippoor- 
will, the heather and the blue bells of Britain, 



176 A VOICE FROM 

to our own golden-rod and daisy; the insular 
and monarchic customs and habits of thought 
of old England must develop into the broader, 
looser, freer swing of democratic America, be- 
fore her contributions to the world of thought 
could claim the distinction of individuality 
and gain an appreciative hearing. 

And so our writers have succeeded in be- 
coming national and representative in propor- 
tion as they have from year to year entered 
more and more fully, and more and more 
sympathetically, into the distinctive life of 
their nation, and endeavored to reflect and 
picture its homeliest pulsations and its elemen- 
tal components. And so in all the arts, as 
men have gradually come to realize that 

Nothing useless is or low- 
Each thing in its place is best, 

and have wrought into their products, lov- 
ingly and impartially and reverently, every 
type, every tint, every tone that they felt 
or saw or heard, just to that degree have their 
expressions, whether by pen or brush or 
rhythmic cadence, adequately and simply 
given voice to the thought of Nature 
around them. No man can prophesy with 
another's parable. For each of us truth 
means merely the re-presentation of the sensa- 



THE SOUTH. 177 

tions and experiences of our personal environ- 
ment, colored and vivified — fused into consis- 
tency and crytallized into individuality in the 
crucible of our own feelings and imaginations. 
The mind of genius is merely the brook, pict- 
uring back its own tree and bush and bit of 
sky and cloud ensparkled by individual salts 
and sands and rippling motion. And para- 
doxical as it may seem, instead of making us 
narrow and provincial, this trueness to one's 
habitat, this appreciative eye and ear for the 
tints and voices of one's own little wood 
serves but to usher us into the eternal galleries 
and choruses of God. It is only through the 
unclouded perception of our tiny " part " that 
we can come to harmonize with the " stupen- 
dous whole," and in order to this our sympa- 
thies must be finely attuned and quick to vi- 
brate under the touch of the commonplace 
and vulgar no less, than at the hand of the 
elegent and refined. Nothing natural can be 
wholly unworthy ; and we do so at our peril, 
if, what God has cleansed we presume to call 
common or unclean. Nature's language is 
not writ in cipher. Her notes are always 
simple and sensuous, and the very meanest 
recesses and commonest byways are fairly 
deafening with her sermons and songs. It is 



ITS A VOICE FROM 

only when we ourselves are out of tune through 
our pretentiousness and self-sufficiency, or are 
blinded and rendered insensate by reason of 
our foreign and unnatural " cultivation " that 
we miss her meanings and inadequately con- 
strue her multiform lessons. 

For two hundred and fifty years there was 
in the American commonwealth a great silent 
factor. Though in themselves simple and 
unique their offices were those of the barest 
utility. Imported merely to be hewers of 
wood and drawers of water, no artist for many 
a generation thought them worthy the sym- 
pathetic study of a model. No Shakespeare 
arose to distil from their unmatched person- 
ality and unparalleled situations the exalted 
poesy and crude grandeur of an immortal 
Caliban. Distinct in color, original in tem- 
perament, simple and unconventionalized in 
thought and action their spiritual develop- 
ment and impressionability under their novel 
environment would have furnished, it might 
seem, as interesting a study in psychology for 
the poetic pen, as would the gorges of the 
Yosemite to the inspired pencil. Full of vital- 
ity and natural elasticity, the severest perse- 
cution and oppression could not kill them out 
or even sour their temper. With massive 



THE SOUTH 179 

brawn and indefatigable endurance they 
wrought under burning suns and chilling 
blasts, in swamps and marshes, — they cleared 
the forests, tunneled mountains, threaded the 
land with railroads, planted, picked and 
ginned the cotton, produced the rice and the 
sugar for the markets of the world. Without 
money and without price they poured their 
hearts' best blood into the enriching and de- 
veloping of this country. They wrought but 
were silent. 

The most talked about of all the forces in 
this diversified civilization, they seemed the 
great American fact, the one objective reality, 
on which scholars sharpened their wits, at 
whiclu orators and statesmen fired their elo- 
quence, and from which, after so long a time, 
authors, with varied success and truthfulness 
have begun at last to draw subjects and models. 
Full of imagination and emotion, their sensu- 
ous pictures of the " New Jerusalem," " the 
golden slippers," " the long white robe," " the 
pearly gates," etc., etc., seem fairly to steam 
with tropical luxuriance and naive abandon. 
The paroxysms of religious fervor into which 
this simple-minded, child-like race were 
thrown by the contemplation of Heaven and 
rest and freedom, would have melted into 



ISO A VOICE FROM 

sympathy and tender pity if not into love, a 
race less cold and unresponsive than the one 
with which they were thrown in closest con- 
tact. There was something truly poetic in 
their weird moanings, their fitful gleams of 
hope and trust, flickering amidst the darkness 
of their wailing helplessness, their strange sad 
songs, the half coherent ebullitions of souls in 
pain, which become, the more they are studied, 
at once the wonder and the despair of musical 
critics and imitators. And if one had the in- 
sight and the simplicity to gather together, to 
digest and assimilate these original lispings of 
an unsophisticated people while they were yet 
close — so close — to nature and to nature's 
God, there is material here, one might almost 
believe, as rich, as unhackneyed, as original 
and distinctive as ever inspired a Homer, or a 
Csedmon or other simple genius of a people's 
infancy and lisping childhood. 

In the days of their bitterest persecution, 
their patient endurance and Christian manli- 
ness inspired Uncle Tom's Cabin, which revo- 
lutionized the thought of the world on the 
subject of slavery and at once placed its author 
in the front rank of the writers of her coun- 
try and age. Here at last was a work which 
England could not parallel. Here was a work 



THE SOUTH. 181 

indigenous to American soil and characteristic 
of the country — a work which American 
forces alone could have produced. The sub- 
ject was at once seen to be fresh and interest- 
ing to the world as well as national and 
peculiar to America ; and so it has since been 
eagerly cultivated by later writers with widely 
varying degrees of fitness and success. 

By a rough classification, authors may be 
separated into two groups : first, those in 
whom the artistic or poetic instinct is upper- 
most — those who write to please — or rather 
who write because they please; who simply 
paint what they see, as naturally, as instinct- 
ively, and as irresistibly as the bird sings — 
with no thought of an audience — singing be- 
cause it loves to sing, — singing because God, 
nature, truth sings through it. For such 
writers, to be true to themselves and true to 
Nature is the only canon. They cannot warp 
a character or distort a fact in order to prove 
a point. They have nothing to prove. All 
who care to, may listen while they make the 
woods resound with their glad sweet carolling; 
and the listeners may draw their own conclu- 
sions as to the meaning of the cadences of 
this minor strain, or that hushed and almost 
awful note of rage or despair. And the 



L82 A VOICE FROM 

myriad-minded multitude attribute their 
myriad-fold impressions to the myriad-minded 
soul by which they have severally been en- 
chanted, each in his own way according to 
what he brings to the witching auditorium. 
But the singer sings on with his hat before his 
face, unmindful, it may be unconscious, of the 
varied strains reproduced from him in the 
multitudinous echoes of the crowd. Such was 
Shakespeare, such was George Eliot, such was 
Robert Browning. Such, in America, was 
Poe, was Bryant, was Longfellow ; and such, 
in his own degree perhaps, is Mr. Howells. 

In the second group belong the preachers, — 
whether of righteousness or unrighteousness, 
— all who have an idea to propagate, no matter 
in what form their talent enables them to 
clothe it, whether poem, novel, or sermon, — 
all those writers with a purpose or a lesson, 
who catch you by the buttonhole and pommel 
you over the shoulder till you are forced to 
give assent in order to escape their vocifera- 
tions ; or they may lure you into listening with 
the soft music of the siren's tongue — no matter 
what the expedient to catch and hold your 
attention, they mean to fetter you with their 
one idea, whatever it is, and make you, if 
possible, ride their hobby. In this group I 



THE SOUTH. 183 

would place Milton in much of his writing, 
Carlyle in all of his, often our own Whittier, 
the great reformer-poet, and Lowell; together 
with such novelists as E. P. Roe, Bellamy, 
Tourgee and som§ others. 

Now in my judgment writings of the first 
class will be the ones to withstand the ravages 
of time. ' Isms ' have their day and pass away. 
New necessities arise with new conditions and 
the emphasis has to be shifted to suit the 
times. No finite mind can grasp and give out 
the whole circle of truth. We do well if we 
can illuminate just the tiny arc which we oc- 
cupy and should be glad that the next genera- 
tion will not need the lessons we try so 
assiduously to hamnler into this. In the evo- 
lution of society, as the great soul of humanity 
builds it " more lofty chambers," the old shell 
and slough of didactic teaching must be left 
behind and forgotten. The world for instance 
has outgrown, I suspect, those passages of 
Paradise Lost in which Milton makes the 
Almighty Father propound the theology of a 
seventeenth century Presbyterian. But a 
passage like the one in which Eve with guile- 
less innocence describes her first sensations 
on awaking into the world is as perennial 
as man. 



184 A VOICE FROM 

"That day I oft remember, when from sleep 
I first awaked and found myself reposed 
Under a shade on flowers, much wondering where 
And what I was, whence thither brought and how. 
Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound 
Of waters issued from a cave, and spread 
Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved 
Pure as the expanse of Heaven ; 

I thither went 
With unexperienced thought and laid me down 
On the green bank, to look into the clear 
Smooth lake that to me seemed another sky. 
As I bent down to look, just opposite 
A shape within the watery gleam appeared, ' 
Bending to look on me ; I started back, 
It started back; but pleased I soon returned, 
Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks 
Of sympathy and love ; there I had fixed 
Mine eyes till now, — and pined with vain desire, 
Had not a voice thus warned me. 

4 What thou seest, 
What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself; 
With thee it came and goes; but follow me, 
And I will bring thee where no shadow stays 
Thy coming and thy soft embraces.' 

What could I do but follow straight 
Invisibly thus led? 

Till I espied thee, fair indeed and tall, 
Under a plantain ; yet methought less fair, 
Less winning soft, less amiably mild 
Than that smooth watery image; back I turned 
Thou following criedst aloud, ' Return, fair Eve, 
Whom fliest thou? whom thou fliest, of him thou art. 
Part of my soul, I seek thee, and thee claim 
My other half.' " 



THE SOUTH. 185 

This will never cease to throb and thrill as 
long as man is man and woman is woman. 

Now owing to the problematical position at 
present occupied by descendants of Africans 
in the American social polity, — growing, I 
presume, out of the continued indecision in 
the mind of the more powerful descendants of 
the Saxons as to whether it is expedient to 
apply the maxims of their religion to their 
civil and political relationships, — most of the 
writers who have hitherto attempted a por- 
trayal of life and customs among the darker 
race have belonged to our class II: they have 
all, more or less, had a point to prove or a 
mission to accomplish, and thus their art has 
been almost uniformly perverted to serve their 
ends; and, to add to their disadvantage, most, 
if not all the writers on this line have been 
but partially acquainted with the life they 
wished to delineate and through sheer ignor- 
ance ofttimes, as well as from design occasion- 
ally, have not been able to put themselves in 
the darker man's place. The art of " thinking 
one's self imaginatively into the experiences 
of others " is not given to all, and it is impos- 
sible to acquire it without a background and a 
substratum of sympathetic knowledge. With- 
out this power our portraits are but death's 



186 A VOICE FROM 

heads or caricatures and no amount of cudgel- 
ing can put into them the movement and real- 
ity of life. Not many have had Mrs. Stowe's 
power because not many have studied with 
Mrs. Stowe's humility and love. They forget 
that underneath the black man's form and 
behavior there is the great bed-rock of hu- 
manity, the key to which is the same that un- 
locks every tribe and kindred of the nations 
of earth. Some have taken up the subject 
with a view to establishing evidences of ready 
formulated theories and preconceptions; and, 
blinded by their prejudices and antipathies, 
have altogether abjured all candid and careful 
study. Others with flippant indifference have 
performed a few psychological experiments 
on their cooks and coachmen, and with 
astounding egotism, and powers of generaliza- 
tion positively bewildering, forthwith aspire 
to enlighten the world. with dissertations on 
racial traits of the Negro. A few with really 
kind intentions and a sincere desire for in- 
formation have approached the subject as a 
clamsy microscopist, not quite at home with 
his instrument, might study a new order of 
beetle or bug. Not having focused closely 
enough to obtain a clear-cut view, they begin 
by telling you that all colored people look ex- 



THE SOUTH. 187 

actly alike and end by noting down every 
chance contortion or idiosyncrasy as a race 
characteristic. Some of their conclusions re- 
mind one of the enterprising German on a 
tour of research and self improvement through 
Great Britain, who recommended his favorite 
sauer kraut both to an Irishman, whom he 
found sick with fever, and to a Scotchman, 
who had a cold. On going that way subse- 
quently and finding the Scotchman well and 
the Irishman dead, he writes: Mem. — Sauer' 
kraut f good for the Scotch but death to the Irish. 

This criticism is not altered by our grateful 
remembrance of those who have heroically 
taken their pens to champion the black man's 
cause. But even here we may remark that a 
painter may be irreproachable in motive and 
as benevolent as an angel in intention, never- 
theless we have a right to compare his copy 
with the original and point out in what re- 
spects it falls short or is overdrawn ; and he 
should thank us for doing so. 

It is in no captious spirit, therefore, that we 
note a few contributions to this phase of 
American literature which have been made 
during the present decade ; we shall try to es- 
timate their weight, their tendency, their truth- 
fulness and their lessons, if any, for ourselves. 



188 A VOICE FROM 

Foremost among the champions of the black 
man's cause through the medium of fiction 
must be mentioned Albion W. Tourgee. No 
man deserves more the esteem and apprecia- 
tion of the colored people of this country for 
his brave words. For ten years he has stood 
almost alone as the enthusiastic advocate, not 
of charity and dole to the Negro, but of jus- 
tice. The volumes he has written upon the 
subject have probably been read by from five 
to ten millions of the American people. Look 
over his list consecrated to one phase or an- 
other of the subject: " A Fool's Errand," "A 
Royal Gentleman," " Bricks without Straw," 
" An Appeal to Caesar," " Hot Ploughshares," 
" Pactolus Prime," — over three thousand pages 
— enough almost for a life work, besides an 
almost interminable quantity published in pe- 
riodicals. 

Mr. Tourgee essays to paint life with the 
coloring of fiction, and yet, we must say, we 
do not think him a novelist primarily ; that 
is, novel making with him seems to be a mere 
incident, a convenient vehicle through which 
to convey those burning thoughts which he is 
constantly trying to impress upon the people * 
of America, whether in lecture, stump speech, 
newspaper column or magazine article. His 



THE SOUTH. 189 

power is not that already referred to of think- 
ing himself imaginatively into the experiences 
of others. He does not create many men of 
many minds. All his offspring are little 
Tourgees — they preach his sermons and pray 
his prayers. 

In " Pactolus Prime," for example, one of 
his latest, his hero, a colored bootblack in a 
large hotel, is none other than the powerful, 
impassioned, convinced and convincing lec- 
turer, Judge Tourgee himself, done over in 
ebony. His caustic wit, his sledge hammer 
logic, his incisive criticism, his righteous in- 
dignation, all reflect the irresistible arguments 
of the great pleader for the Negro; and all 
the incidents are arranged to enable this boot- 
black to impress on senators and judges, law- 
yers, and divines, his plea for justice to the 
Negro, along with the blacking and shine 
which he skillfully puts on their aristocratic 
toes. And so with all the types which Mr. 
Tourgee presents — worthy or pitiful ones 
always — they uniformly preach or teach, con- 
vict or convert. Artistic criticism aside, it is 
mainly as a contribution to polemic literature 
in favor of the colored, man that most of 
Tourgee's works will be judged ; and we know 
of no one who can more nearly put himself in 



190 A VOICE FROM 

the Negro's place in resenting his wrongs and 
pleading for his rights. In presenting truth 
from the colored American's standpoint Mr. 
Tourgee excels, we think, in fervency and fre- 
quency of utterance any living writer, white 
or colored. Mr. Cable is brave and just. He 
wishes to see justice done in the Freedman's 
case in equity, and we honor and revere him 
for his earnest manly efforts towards that end. 
But Mr. Cable does not forget (I see no reason 
why he should, of course,) that he is a white 
man, a Southerner and an ex-soldier in the 
Confederate army. To use his own words, he 
writes, " with aia admiration and affection for 
the South, that for justice and sincerity yield 
to none ; in a spirit of faithful sonship to a 
Southern state." Of course this but proves 
his sincerity, illustrates his candor, and adds 
weight to the axiomatic justice of a cause 
which demands such support from a thor- 
oughly disinterested party, or rather a party 
whose interest and sympathy and affection 
must be all on the side he criticises and con- 
demns. The passion of the partisan and the 
bias of the aggrieved can never be charged 
against him. Mr. Cable's is the impartiality 
of the judge who condemns his own son or 
cuts off his own arm. His attitude is ju- 



THE SOUTH. 191 

dicial, convincing, irreproachable throughout. 
Not only the Christian conscience of the 
South, but also its enlightened self-interest is 
unquestionably on the side of justice and manly 
dealing toward the black man; and one can 
not help feeling that a cause which thus en- 
lists the support and advocacy of the " better 
self" of a nation must ultimately be invin- 
cible: and Mr. Cable, in my judgment, em- 
bodies and represents that Christian conscience 
and enlightened self-interest of the hitherto 
silent South; he vocalizes and inspires its 
better self. To him the dishonesty and in- 
humanity there practiced against the black 
race is a blot on the scutcheon of .that fair 
land and doomed to bring in its wake untold 
confusion, disaster, and disgrace. From his 
calm elevation he sees the impending evil, and 
with loving solicitude urges his countrymen 
to flee the wrath to come. Mr. Tourgee, on 
the other hand, speaks with all the eloquence 
and passion of the aggrieved party himself. 
With his whip of fine cords he pitilessly 
scourges the inconsistencies, the weaknesses 
and pettiness of the black man's persecutors. 
The fire is burning within him, he cannot but 
speak. He has said himself that he deserves, 
no credit for speaking and writing on this 



192 A VOICE FROM 

subject, for it has taken hold of him and 
possesses him to the exclusion of almost every- 
thing else. Necessity is laid upon him. Not 
more bound was Saul of Tarsus to consecrate 
his fiery eloquence to the cause of the perse- 
cuted Nazarene than is this white man to 
throw all the weight of his powerful soul into 
the plea for justice and Christianity in this 
American anomaly and huge inconsistency. 
Not many colored men would have attempted 
Tourgee's brave defense of Reconstruction 
and the alleged corruption of Negro suprem- 
acy, more properly termed the period of white 
sullenness and desertion of duty. Not many 
would have dared, fearlessly as he did, to 
arraign this country for an enormous pecuniary 
debt to the colored man for the two hundred 
and forty-seven years of unpaid labor of his 
ancestors. Not many could so determinedly 
have held up the glass of the real Christianity 
before these believers in a white Christ and 
these preachers of the gospel, " Suffer the little 
white children to come unto me." We all see 
the glaring inconsistency and feel the burning 
shame. We appreciate the incongruity and 
the indignity of having to stand forever hat in 
hand as beggars, or be shoved aside as in- 
truders in a country whose resources have 



THE SOUTH. 193 

been opened up by the unrequited toil of our 
forefathers. We know that our bill is a true 
one — that the debt is as real as to any pen- 
sioners of our government. But the principles 
of patience and forbearance, of meekness and 
charity, have become so ingrained in the 
Negro character that there is hardly enough 
self-assertion left to ask as our right that a 
part of the country's surplus wealth be loaned 
for the education of our children ; even though 
we know that our present poverty is due to 
the fact that the toil of the last quarter cen- 
tury enriched these coffers, but left us the 
heirs of crippled, deformed, frost-bitten, horny- 
handed and empty handed mothers and 
fathers. Oh, the shame of it ! 

A coward during the war gets a few scratches 
and bruises — often in fleeing from the enemy — 
and his heirs are handsomely pensioned by 
his grateful country ! But these poor wretches 
stood every man to his post for two hundred 
and fifty years, digging trenches, building 
roads, tunneling mountains, clearing away 
forests, cultivating the soil in the cotton fields 
and rice swamps till fingers dropped off, toes 
were frozen, knees twisted, arms stiff and use- 
less — and when their sons and heirs, with the 
burdens of helpless parents to support, wish 



194 A VOICE FROM 

to secure enough education to enable them to 
make a start in life, their grateful country 
sagely deliberates as to the feasibility of send- 
ing them to another undeveloped jungle to 
show off their talent for unlimited pioneer 
work in strange climes! The Indian, during 
the entire occupancy of this country by white 
men, has stood proudly aloof from all their ef- 
forts at development ? and presented an unbroken 
front of hostility to the introduction and 
spread of civilization. The Negro, though 
brought into the country by force and com- 
pelled under the lash to lend his brawn and 
sturdy sinews to promote its material growth 
and prosperity, nevertheless with perfect ami- 
ability of temper and adaptability of mental 
structure has quietly and unhesitatingly ac- 
cepted its standards and fallen in line with its 
creeds. He adjusts himself just as readily 
and as appreciatively, it would seem, to the 
higher and stricter requirements of freedom 
and citizenship; and although from beginning 
to end, nettled and goaded under unprece- 
dented provocation, he has never once shown 
any general disposition to arise in his might 
and deluge this country with blood or desolate 
it with burning, as he might have done. It is 
no argument to charge weakness as the cause 



THE SOUTH. 195 

of his peaceful submission and to sneer at the 
" inferiority " of a race who would allow 
themselves to be made slaves — uurevenged. 
It may be nobler to perish redhanded, to kill 
as many as your battle axe holds out to hack 
and then fall with an exultant yell and savage 
grin of fiendish delight on the hugh pile of 
bloody corpses, — expiring with the solace and 
unction of having ten thousand wounds all in 
front. I don't know. I sometimes think it 
depends on where you plant your standard 
and who wears the white plume which your 
eye inadvertently seeks. If Napoleon is the 
ideal of mankind, I suppose 'tis only noble to 
be strong ; and true greatness may consist in 
an adamantine determination never to serve. 
The greatest race with which I am even par- 
tially acquainted, proudly boasts that it has 
never met another race save as either enemy 
or victim. They seem to set great store by 
this fact and I judge it must be immensely 
noble according to their ideals. But somehow 
it seems to me that those nations and races 
who choose the Nazarene for their plumed 
knight would find some little jarring and 
variance between such notions and His ideals. 
There could not be at all times perfect una- 
nimity between Leader and host. A good 



196 A VOICE FROM 

many of his sayings, it seems to me, would 
have to be explained away; not a few of his 
injunctions quietly ignored, and I am hot sure 
but the great bulk of his principles and pre- 
cepts must after all lie like leaden lumps, an 
undigested and unassimilable mass on an un- 
easy overburdened stomach. I find it rather 
hard to understand these things, and somehow 
I feel at times as if I have taken hold ot the 
wrong ideal. But then, I suppose, it must be 
because I have not enough of the spirit that 
comes with the blood of those grand old sea 
kings (I believe you call them) who shot out 
in their trusty barks speeding over unknown 
seas and, like a death-dealing genius, with the 
piercing eye and bloodthirsty heart of hawk 
or vulture killed and harried, burned and 
caroused. This is doubtless all very glorious 
and noble, and the seed of it must be an ex- 
cellent thing to have in one's blood. But I 
haven't it. I frankly admit my limitations. I 
am hardly capable of appreciating to the full 
such grand intrepidity, — due of course to the 
fact that the stock from which I am sprung 
did not attain that royal kink in its blood ages 
ago. My tribe has to own kinship with a very 
tame and unsanguinary individual who, a long 
time ago when blue blood was a distilling in the 



THE SOUTH. 197 

stirring fiery world outside, had no more heroic 
and daring a thing to do than help a pale 
sorrow-marked man as he was toiling up a 
certain hill at Jerusalem bearing his own cross 
whereon he was soon to be ignominiously 
nailed. This Cyrenian fellow was used to 
bearing burdens and he didn't mind giving a 
lift over a hard place now and then, with no 
idea of doing anything grand or memorable, 
or that even so much as his name would be 
known thereby. And then, too, by a rather 
strange coincidence this unwarlike and insig- 
nificant kinsman of ours had his home in a 
country (the fatherland of all the family) 
which had afforded kindly shelter to that 
same mysterious Stranger, when, a babe and 
persecuted by bloody power and heartless jeal- 
ousy, He had to flee the land of his birth. And 
somehow this same country has in its day done 
so much fostering and sheltering of that kind 
— has watched and hovered over the cradles 
of religions and given ref age and comfort to 
the persecuted, the world weary, the storm 
tossed benefactors of mankind so often that 
she has come to represent nothing stronger or 
more imposing than the " eternal womanly " 
among the nations, and to accept as her mis- 
sion and ideal, loving service to mankind. 



198 A VOICE FROM 

With such antecedents then the black race 
in America should not be upbraided for having 
no taste for blood and carnage. It is the fault 
of their constitution that they prefer the 
judicial awards of peace and have an eternal 
patience to abide the bloodless triumph of 
right. It is no argument, therefore, when I 
point to the record of their physical supremacy 
— when the homes and helpless ones of this 
country were absolutely at the black man's 
mercy and not a town laid waste, not a build- 
ing burned, and not a woman insulted — it is no 
argument, I say, for you to retort : " He was a 
coward; he didn't dare!" The facts simply do 
not show this to have been the case. 

Now the tardy conscience of the nation 
wakes up one bright morning and. is over- 
whelmed with blushes and stammering con- 
fusion because convicted of dishonorable and 
unkind treatment of the Indian; and there is 
a wonderful scurrying around among the 
keepers of the keys to get out more blankets 
and send out a few primers for the " wards," 
While the black man, a faithful son and inde- 
feasible heir, — who can truthfully say, " Lo, 
these many years do I serve thee, neither 
transgressed I at any time thy commandment, 
and yet thou never gavest me a kid that I 



THE SOUTH. 199 

might make merry with my friends/' — is 
snubbed and chilled and made unwelcome at 
every merry-making of the family. And when 
appropriations for education are talked of, the 
section for which he has wrought and suffered 
most, actually defeats the needed and desired 
assistance for fear they may not be able to 
prevent his getting a fair and equitable share 
in the distribution. 

Oh, the shame of it ! 

In Pactolus Prime Mr. Tourgee has suc- 
ceeded incomparably, we think, in photo- 
graphing and vocalizing the feelings of the 
colored American in regard to the Christian 
profession and the pagan practice of the dom- 
inant forces in the American government. 
And as an impassioned denunciation of the 
heartless and godless spirit of caste founded 
on color, as a scathing rebuke to weak-eyed 
Christians who cannot read the golden rule 
across the color line, as an unanswerable ar- 
raignment of unparalleled ingratitude and 
limping justice in the policy of this country 
towards the weaker of its two children, that 
served it so long and so faithfully, the book is 
destined to live and to furnish an invaluable 
contribution to this already plethoric depart- 
ment of American literature. 



200 A VOICE FROM 

Mr. Cable and Mr. Tourgee represent pos- 
sibly the most eminent as well as the most 
prolific among the writers on this subject be- 
longing to the didactic or polemic class. A 
host of others there are — lesser lights, or of 
more intermittent coruscations — who have 
contributed on either side the debate single 
treatises, numerous magazine articles or news- 
paper editorials, advocating some one theory 
some another on the so-called race problem. 
In this group belongs the author of " An Ap- 
peal to Pharoah," advocating the deportation 
absurdity; also the writings of H. W. Grady; 
" In Plain Black and White," " The Brother in 
Black," " The South Investigated," " A De- 
fense of the Negro Race," " The Prosperity of 
the South Dependent on the Elevation of the 
Negro," " The Old South and the New," 
" Black and White," etc., etc., among which 
are included articles from the pen ot colored 
men themselves, such as Mr. Douglass, Dr. 
Crummell, Dr. Arnett, Dr. Blyden, Dr. Scar- 
borough, Dr. Price, Mr. Fortune, and others. 
These are champions of the forces on either 
side. They stand ever at the forefront dealing 
desperate blows right and left, now fist and 
skull, now broad-sword and battle-axe, now 
with the flash and boom of artillery; while 



THE SOUTH. 201 

the little fellows run out ever and anon from 
the ranks and deliver a telling blow between 
the eyes of an antagonist. All are wrought 
up to a high tension, some are blinded with 
passion, others appalled with dread, — all sin- 
cerely feel the reality of their own vision and 
earnestly hope to compel their world to see 
with their eyes. Such works, full of the fever 
and heat of debate belong to the turmoil and 
turbulence of the time. A hundred years 
from now they may be interesting history, 
throwing light on a feature of these days 
which, let us hope, w T ill then be hardly intelli- 
gible to an American citizen not over fifty 
years old. 

Among our artists for art's sweet sake, Mr. 
Howells has recently tried his hand also at 
painting the Negro, attempting merely a side 
light in half tones, on his life and manners ; 
and I think the unanimous verdict of the sub- 
ject is that, in this single department at least, 
Mr. Howells does not know what he is talk- 
ing about. And yet I do not think we should 
quarrel with An Imperative Duty because it 
lacks the earnestness and bias of a special 
pleader. Mr. Howells merely meant to press 
the button and give one picture from Ameri- 
can life involving racial complications. The 



202 A VOICE FROM 

kodak does no more; it cannot preach ser- 
mons or solve problems. 

Besides, the portrayal of Negro character- 
istics was by no means the main object of the 
story, which was rather meant, I judge, to be 
a thumb nail sketch containing a psychologi- 
cal study of a morbidly sensitive conscience 
hectoring over a weak and vacillating will and 
fevered into increased despotism by reading 
into its own life and consciousness the analyses 
and terrible retributions of fiction, — a product 
of the Puritan's uncompromising sense of 
" right though the heavens fall" irritated and 
kept sore by being unequally yoked with in- 
decision and cowardice. Of such strokes Mr. 
Howells is undoubtedly master. It is true there 
is little point and no force of character about 
the beautiful and irresponsible young heroine ; 
but as that is an attainment of so many of 
Mr. Howells' models, it is perhaps not to be 
considered as illustrating any racial character- 
istics. I cannot help sharing, however, the 
indignation of those who resent the picture in 
the colored church, — " evidently," Mr. Howells 
assures us, " representing the best colored 
society " ; where the horrified young prig, Rhoda 
Aldgate, meets nothing but the frog-like 
countenances and cat-fish months, the musky 



THE SOUTH. 203 

i 

exhalations and the " bress de Lawd, Honey," 
of an uncultivated people. It is just here that 
Mr. Howells fails — and fails because he gives 
only a half truth, and that a partisan half 
truth. One feels that he had no business to 
attempt a subject of which he knew so little, 
or for which he cared so little. There is one 
thing I would like to say to my white fellow 
countrymen, and especially to those who dab- 
ble in ink and affect to discuss the Negro ; 
and yet I hesitate because I feel it is a fact 
which persons of the finer sensibilities and 
more delicate perceptions must know instinc- 
tively : namely, that it is an insult to human- 
ity and a sin against God to publish any such 
sweeping generalizations of a race on such 
meager and superficial information. We 
meet it at every turn — this obtrusive and of- 
fensive vulgarity, this gratuitous sizing up of 
the Negro and conclusively writing down his 
equation, sometimes even among his ardent 
friends and bravest defenders. Were I not 
afraid of falling myself into the same error 
that I am condemning, I would say it seems 
an Anglo Saxon characteristic to have such 
overweening confidence in his own power of 
induction that there is no equation which he 
would acknowledge to be indeterminate, how- 



204 A VOICE FROM 

ever many unknown quantities it may possess. 
Here is an extract from Dr. Mayo, a thor- 
oughly earnest man and sincerely friendly, as 
I believe, to the colored people. 

" Among these women are as many grades of native, in- 
tellectual, moral and executive force as among the white 
people. The plantations of the Gulf, the Atlantic coast 
and the Mississippi bottoms swarm with negro women who 
seem hardly lifted above the brutes I know a group of 
young colored women, many of them accomplished teachers, 
who bear themselves as gently and with as varied womanly 
charms as any score of ladies in the land. The one abyss of 
perdition to this class is the slough of unchastity in which, 
as a race they still flounder, half conscious that it is a slough 
— the double inheritance of savage Africa and slavery." 

Now there may be one side of a truth here, 
yet who but a self-confident Anglo Saxon 
would dare make such a broad unblushing 
statement about a people as a race? Some 
developments brought to light recently through 
the scientific Christianity and investigating 
curiosity of Dr. Parkhurst may lead one to 
suspect the need of missionary teaching to 
" elevate " the white race ; and yet I have too 
much respect for the autonomy of races, too 
much reverence for the collective view of God's 
handiwork to speak of any such condition, 
however general, as characterizing the race. 
The colored people do not object to the ade- 



THE SOUTH. 205 

quate and truthful portrayal of types of their 
race in whatever degree of the scale of civili- 
zation, or of social and moral development, is 
consonant with actual facts or possibilities. 
As Mr. Howells himself says, " A man can be 
anything along the vast range from angel to 
devil, and without living either the good 
thing or the bad thing in which his fancy 
dramatizes him, he can perceive it " — and I 
would add, can appreciate and even enjoy its 
delineation by the artist. The average Eng- 
lishman takes no exception to the humorous 
caricatures of Dickens or to the satires and 
cynicisms of Thackeray. The Quilps and the 
Bernsteins are but strongly developed nega- 
tives of our universal human nature on the dark 
side. We recognize them as genre sketches, — 
and with the Agneses and Esthers and Aunt 
Lamberts as foils and correctives, we can appre- 
ciate them accordingly : while we do not be- 
lieve ourselves to be the original of the por- 
trait, there is enough sympathy and fellow 
feeling for the character to prevent our human 
relationship from being outraged and insulted. 
But were Dickens to introduce an average 
scion of his countrymen to a whole congrega- 
tion of Quilps, at the same time sagely inform- 
ing him that these represented the best there was 



206 A VOICE FROM 

of English life and morals, I strongly suspect 
the charming author would be lifted out on 
the toe of said average Englishman's boot, in 
case there shouldn't happen to be a good 
horsewhip handy. 

Our grievance then is not that we are not 
painted as angels of light or as goody-goody 
Sunday-school developments ; but we do 
claim that a man whose acquaintanceship is 
so slight that he cannot even discern diversi- 
ties of individuality^ has no right or authority 
to hawk " the only true and authentic " pic- 
tures of a race of human beings. Mr. Howells' 
point of view is precisely that of a white man 
who sees colored people at long range or only 
in certain capacities. His conclusions about 
the colored man are identical with the im- 
pressions that will be received and carried 
abroad by foreigners from all parts of the 
globe, who shall attend our Columbian Expo- 
sition for instance, and who, through the im- 
partiality and generosity of our white coun- 
trymen, will see colored persons only as boot- 
blacks and hotel waiters, grinning from ear 
to ear and bowing and courtesying for the 
extra tips. In the same way Mr. Howells has 
met colored persons. in hotels or on the com- 
mons promenading and sparking, or else act- 



THE SOUTH. 207 

ing as menials and lazzaroni. He has not 
seen, and therefore cannot be convinced that 
there exists a quiet, self-respecting, dignified 
class of easy life and manners (save only 
where it crosses the roughness of their white 
fellow countrymen's barbarity) of cultivated 
tastes and habits, and with no more in com- 
mon with the class of his acquaintance than 
the accident of complexion, — beyond a sym- 
pathy with their wrongs, or a resentment at 
being socially and morally classified with 
them, according as the principle of altruism 
or of self love is dominant in the individual. 

I respectfully submit that there is hardly a 
colored church in any considerable city in this 
country, which could be said in any sense to 
represent the best colored society, in which 
Rhoda Aldgate could not have seen, when she 
opened her eyes, persons as quietly and as 
becomingly dressed, as cultivated in tone and 
as refined in manner, as herself; persons, too, 
as sensitive to rough contact and as horribly 
alive as she could be (though they had known 
it from childhood) to the galling distinctions 
in this country which insist on levelling down 
all individuals more or less related to the 
Africans. So far from the cringing deference 
which Mr. Howells paints as exhibited to 



■>MVi 



OS A VOICE FROM 

"the young white lady," in nine cases out of 
ten the congregation would have supposed 
intuitively that she was a quadroon, so far 
from the unusual was her appearance and 
complexion. In not a few such colored 
churches would she have found young women 
of aspiration and intellectual activity with 
whom she could affiliate without nausea and 
from whom she could learn a good many 
lessons —and, sadly I say it, even more outside 
the churches whom bitterness at racial incon- 
sistency of white Christians had soured into a 
silent disbelief of all religion. In either class 
she would have found no trouble in reaching 
a heart which could enter into all the agony 
of her own trial and bitter grief. Nor am I 
so sure, if she had followed her first gushing 
impulse to go South and " elevate " the race 
with whom she had discovered her relation- 
ship, that she would have found even them so 
ready to receive her condescending patronage. 
There are numerous other inadvertent mis- 
representations in the book — such as supposing 
that colored people voluntarily and deliber- 
ately prefer to keep to themselves in all public 
places and that from choice u they have their 
own neighborhoods, their own churches, their 
own amusements, their own resorts/' — the 



THE SOUTH. 209 

intimation that there is a " black voice," a 
black character, easy, irresponsible and fond of 
what is soft and pleasant, a black ideal of art 
and a black barbaric taste in color, a black 
affinity — so that in some occult and dreadful 
way one, only one-sixteenth related and totally 
foreign by education and environment, can 
still feel that one-sixteenth race calling her 
more loudly than the fifteen-sixteenths. I 
wish to do Mr. Howells the justice to admit, 
however, that one feels his blunders to be 
wholly unintentional and due to the fact that 
he has studied his subject merely from the 
outside. With all his matchless powers as a 
novelist, not even he can yet " think himself 
imaginatively " into the colored man's place. 

To my mind the quaintest and truest little 
bit of portraiture from low-life that I have read 
in a long time is the little story that appeared 
last winter in the Harpers, of the " Widder 
Johnsing and how she caught the preacher" It 
is told with naive impersonality and apprecia- 
tive humor, and is quite equal, I think, both 
in subject and treatment to the best of Mrs. 
Stowe's New England dialect stories. It is 
idyllic in its charming simplicity and natural- 
ness, and delightfully fresh in its sparkling 
wit and delicious humor. We do not resent 



210 A VOICE FROM 

such pictures as this of our lowly folk — such 
a homely and honest 

" Pomegranate, which, if cut deep down the middle, 
Shows a heart within blood tinctured of a veined humanity ," 

is always sweet to the taste and dear to the 
heart, however plain and humble the setting. 
A longer and more elaborate work, Harold, 
published anonymously, comes properly in 
our group second, the didactic novel. It gives 
the picture of a black Englishman cultured 
and refined, brought in painful contact with 
American, — or rather un-American, color prej u- 
dice. The point of the book seems to be to 
show that education for the black man is a 
curse, since it increases his sensitiveness to 
the indignities he must suffer in consequence 
of white barbarity. The author makes Har- 
old, after a futile struggle against American 
inequalities, disappear into the jungles of 
Africa, " there to wed a dusky savage," at the 
last cursing the day he had ever suspected a 
broader light or known a higher aspiration ; 
a conclusion which, to my mind, is a most il- 
logical one. If the cultivated black man can- 
not endure the white man's barbarity — the 
cure, it seems to me, would be to cultivate the 
white man. Civilize both, then each will 
know what is due from man to man, and that 



THE SOUTH. 211 

reduces at once to a minimum the friction of 
their contact. 

In the same rank as Harold belongs that 
improbability of improbabilities, Doctor Hu- 
guet, by the arch-sensationalist, Ignatius Don- 
elly. As its purpose is evidently good, I shall 
not undertake to review the book. Suffice it 
to say the plot hinges on th e exchange of soul 
between the body of a black chicken-thief and 
that of a cultivated white gentleman, and sets 
forth the indignities and wrongs to which the 
cultured soul, with all its past of refinement 
and learning, has to submit in consequence of 
its change of cuticle. The book is an able 
protest against that snobbishness which 
elevates complexion into a touchstone of 
aristocracy and makes the pigment cells of a 
man's skin his badge of nobility regardless of 
the foulness or purity of the soul within ; the 
only adverse criticism from the colored man's 
point of view being the selection of a chicken 
thief as his typical black man; but on the 
principle of antitheses this may have been 
artistically necessary. 

I shall pass next to what I consider the 
most significant contribution to this subject 
for the last ten years — a poem by Maurice 
Thompson in the New York Independent for 



212 A VOICE FROM 

January 21, 1892, entitled A Voodoo Prophecy. 
From beginning to end it is full of ghoulish 
imagery and fine poetic madness. Here are 
a few stanzas of it : 

'•I am the prophet of the dusky race, 

The poet of wild Africa. Behold, 
The midnight vision brooding in my face! 
Come near me, 
And hear me, 
While from my lips the words of Fate are told. 

A black and terrible memory masters me, 

The shadow and the substance of deep wrong ; 
You know the past, hear now what is to be: 
From the midnight land, 
Over sea and sand, 
From the green jungle, hear my Voodoo-song : 

A tropic heat is in my bubbling veins, 
Quintessence of all savagery is mine, 
The lust of ages ripens in my reins, 
And burns 
And yearns, 
Like venom-sap within a noxious vine. 



Was I a heathen ? Ay, I was — am still 

A fetich worshipper ; but I was free 
To loiter or to wander at my will, 
To leap and dance, 
To hurl my lance, 
And breathe the air of savage liberty. 



THE SOUTH. 213 

You drew me to a higher life, you say ; 

Ah, drove me, with the lash of slavery ! 
Am I unmindful? Every cursed day 

Of pain 

And chain 
Roars like a torrent in my memory. 

You make my manhood whole with ' equal rights ! ' 
Poor empty words! Dream you I honor them? — 
I who have stood on Freedom's wildest hights? 
My Africa, 
I see the day 
When none dare touch thy garment's lowest hem. 

You cannot make me love you with your whine 

Of fine repentance. Veil your pallid face 
In presence of the shame that mantles mine; 
Stand 

At command 
Of the black prophet of the Negro race ! 

I hate you, and I live to nurse my hate, 

Remembering when you plied the slaver's trade 
In my dear land . . . How patiently I wait 
The day, 
Not far away, 
When all your pride shall shrivel up and fade. 

Yea, all your whiteness darken under me ! 

Darken and be jaundiced, and your blood 
Take in dread humors from my savagery, 
Uutil 
Your will 
Lapse into mine and seal my masterhood. 



214 A VOICE FROM 

You, seed of Abel, proud of your descent, 

And arrogant, because your cheeks are fair, 
Within my loins an inky curse is pent, 
To flood 
Your blood 
And stain your skin and crisp your golden hair. 

As you have done by me, so will I dp 
By all the generations of your race ; 
Your snowy limbs, your blood's patrician blue 
Shall be 
Tainted by me, 
And I will set my seal upon your face ! 

Yea, I will dash my blackness down your veins, 

And through your nerves my sensuousness I'll fling; 
Your lips, your eyes, shall bear the musty stains 
Of Congo kisses, 
While shrieks and hisses 
Shall blend into the savage songs I sing! 

Your temples will I break, your fountains fill, 
Your cities raze, your fields to deserts turn; 
My heathen fires shall shine on every hill, 
And wild beasts roam, 
Where stands your home; — 
Even the wind your hated dust shall spurn. 

I will absorb your very life in me, 

And mold you to the shape of my desire; 
Back through the cycles of all cruelty 
I will swing you, 
And wring you, 
And roast you in my passions' hottest fire. 



THE SOUTH. 215 

You, North and South, you, East and West, 

Shall drink the cup your fathers gave to me; 
My back still burns, I bare my bleeding breast, 
I set my face, 
My limbs I brace, 
To make the long, strong fight for mastery. 

My serpent fetich lolls its withered lip 

And bares its shining fangs at thought of this: 
I scarce can hold the monster in my grip. 
So strong is he, 
So eagerly 
He leaps to meet my precious prophecies. 

Hark for the coming of my countless host, 
Watch for my banner over land and sea. 
The ancient power of vengeance is not lost! 
Lo! on the sky 
The fire-clouds fly, 
And strangely moans the windy, weltering sea." 

Now this would be poetry if it were only 
truthful. Simple and sensuous it surely is, but 
it lacks the third requisite — truth. The Ne- 
gro is utterly incapable of such vindictiveness. 
Such concentrated venom might be distilled 
in the cold Saxon, writhing and chafing under 
oppression and repression such as the Negro 
in America has suffered and is suffering. But 
the black man is in real life only too glad to 
accept the olive branch of reconciliation. He 
merely asks to be let alone. To be allowed to 
pursue his destiny as a tree man and an Ameri- 



•Jl<) A VOICE FROM 

can citizen, to rear and educate his children 
in peace, to engage in art, science, trades or 
industries according to his ability, — and to go to 
the wall if he fail. He is willing, if I under- 
stand him, to let bygones be bygones. He 
does not even demand satisfaction for the cen- 
turies of his ancestors'" unpaid labor. He asks 
neither pension, nor dole nor back salaries; 
but is willing to start from the bottom, all help- 
less and unprovided for as he is, with abso- 
lutely nothing as his stock in trade, with no 
capital, in a country developed, enriched, and 
made to blossom through his father's " sweat 
and toil," — with none of the accumulations of 
ancestors' labors, with no education or moral 
training for the duties and responsibilities of 
freedom ; nay, with every power, mental, 
moral, and physical, emasculated by a debasing 
slavery — he is willing, even glad to take his 
place in the lists alongside his oppressors, who 
have had every advantage, to be tried with 
them by their own standards, and to ask no 
quarter from them or high Heaven to palliate 
or excuse the ignominy of a defeat. 

The Voodoo Prophecy has no interest then 
as a picture of the black, but merely as a rev- 
elation of the white man. Maurice Thompson 
in penning this portrait of the Negro, has, un- 



THE SOUTH. 217 

consciously it may be, laid bare his own soul — 
its secret dread and horrible fear. And this, 
it seems to me, is the key to the Southern sit- 
uation, the explanation of the apparent heart - 
lessness and cruelty of some, and the stolid in- 
difference to atrocity on the part of others, be- 
fore which so many of us have stood paralyzed 
in dumb dismay. The Southerner is not a 
cold-blooded villain. Those of us who have 
studied the genus in its native habitat can tes- 
tify that his impulses are generous and kindly, 
and that w T hile the South presents a solid pha- 
lanx of iron resistance to the Negro's advance- 
ment, still as individuals to individuals they 
are w T arm-hearted and often even tender. And 
just here is the difference betw T een the Souther- 
ner and his more philosophical, less sentimen- 
tal Northern brother. The latter in an ab- 
stract metaphysical way rather wants you to 
have all the rights that belong to you. He 
thinks it better for the country, better for him 
that justice, universal justice be done. But 
he doesn't care to have the blacks, in the con- 
crete, too near him. He doesn't know them 
and doesn't want to know them. He really 
can't understand liow the Southerner could 
have let those little cubs get so close to him 
as they did in the old days — -nursing from the 



218 A VOICE FROM 

same bottle and feeding at the same breast 
To the Southerner, on the other hand, race 
antipathy and color-phobia as such does not 
exist. Personally, there is hardly a man of 
them but knows, and has known from child- 
hood, some black fellow whom he loves as 
dearly as if he were white, whom he regards 
as indispensable to his own pleasures, and for 
whom he would break every commandment 
in the decalogue to save him from any general 
disaster. But our Bourbon seems utterly in- 
capable of generalizing his few ideas. He 
would die for A or B, but suddenly becomes 
utterly impervious to every principle of logic 
w T hen you ask for the simple golden rule to be 
applied to the class of which A or B is one. 
Another fact strikes me as curious. A South- 
ern white man's regard for his black friend 
varies in inverse ratio to the real distance be- 
tween them in education and refinement. 

V 

Puck expresses it — " I can get on a great deal 
better with a nigger than I can with a Negro." 
And Mr. Douglass puts it: "Let a colored 
man be out at elbows and toes and half way 
into the gutter and there is no prejudice against 
him ; but let him respect himself and be a man 
and Southern whites can't abide to ride in the 
same car with him." 



THE SOUTH. 219 

Why this anomaly? Is it pride? Ordin- 
arily, congeniality increases with similarity in 
taste and manners. Is it antipathy to color? 
It does not exist. The explanation is the 
white man's dread dimly shadowed out in this 
Voodoo Prophecy of Maurice Thompson, and 
fed and inspired by such books as Minden 
Armais and a few wild theorizers who have 
nothing better to do with their time than 
spend it advocating the fusion of races as a 
plausible and expedient policy. Now I believe 
there are two ideas which master the Southern 
white man and incense him against the black 
race. On this point he is a monomaniac. In 
the face of this feeling he would not admit he 
was convinced of the axioms of Geometry. 
The one is personal and present, the fear of 
Negro political domination. The other is for 
his posterity — the future horror of being lost 
as a race in this virile and vigorous black race. 
Relieve him of this nightmare and he be- 
comes " as gentle as the sucking dove." With 
that dread delusion maddening him he would 
drive his sword to the hilt in the tender breast 
of his darling child, did he fancy that through 
her the curse would come. 

Now argument is almost supersensible with 
a monomaniac. What is most needed is a 



'2'20 A VOICE FROM 

sedative for the excited nerves, and then a 
mental tonic to stimulate the power of clear 
perception and truthful cerebration. The 
Southern patient needs to be brought to see, 
by the careful and cautious injection of cold 
facts and by the presentation of well selected 
object lessons that so far as concerns his first 
named horror of black supremacy politically, 
the usual safeguards of democracy are in the 
hands of intelligence and wealth in the South 
as elsewhere. The weapons of fair argument 
and persuasion, the precautionary bulwark of 
education and justice, the unimpeachable 
supremacy and insuperable advantage of in- 
telligence and o discipline over mere numbers — 
are all in his reach. It is to his interest to 
help make the black peasant an intelligent 
and self-respecting citizen. No section can 
thrive under the incubus of an illiterate, im- 
poverished, cheerless and hopeless peasantiy. 
Let the South once address herself in good 
faith to the improvement of the condition of 
her laboring classes, let her give but a tithe of 
the care and attention which are bestowed in 
the North on its mercurial and inflammable 
importations, let her show but the disposition 
in her relative poverty merely to utter the 
benediction, Be ye warmed and fed and educated, 



THE SOUTH. 221 

even while she herself has not the wherewithal 
to emulate the Pullman villages and the Car- 
negie munificence, let her but give him a fair 
wage and an honest reckoning and a kindly 
God-speed, — and she will find herself in pos- 
session of the most tractable laborer, the most 
faithful and reliable henchman, the most in- 
valuable co-operator and friendly vassal of 
which this or any country can boast. 

So far as regards the really less sane idea 
that amicable relations subsisting between the 
races may promote their ultimate blending and 
loss of identity, it hardly seems necessary to 
refute it. Blending of races in the aggregate 
is simply an unthinkable thought, and the 
union of individuals can never fall out by ac- 
cident or haphazard. There must be the 
deliberate wish and intention on each side ; 
and the average black man in this country is 
as anxious to preserve his identity and transmit 
his type as is the average white man. In any 
case, hybridity is in no sense dependent on 
sectional or national amity. Oppression and 
outrage are not the means to chain the affec- 
tions, Cupid, who knows no bolt or bars, is 
more wont to be stimulated with romantic 
sympathy towards a forbidden object unjustly 
persecuted. The sensible course is to remove 



222 A VOICE FROM 

those silly and unjust barriers which protect 
nothing and merely call attention to the possi- 
bilities of law-breaking, and depend instead 
on religion and common sense to guide, con- 
trol and direct in the paths of purity and right 
reason. 

The froth and foam, the sticks and debris at 
the watertop may have an uncertain move- 
ment, but as deep calleth unto deep the 
mighty ocean swell is always true to the tides ; 
and whatever the fluctuations along the ragged 
edge between the races, the home instinct is 
sufficiently strong with each to hold the great 
mass true to its attractions. If Maurice 
Thompson's nightmare vision is sincere on his 
part, then, it has no objective reality; 'tis 
merely a hideous phantasm bred of his own 
fevered and jaundiced senses; if he does not 
believe in it himself, it was most unkind and 
uncalled for to publish abroad such inflaming 
and irritating fabrications. 

After this cursory glance at a few contribu- 
tions which have peculiarly emphasized one 
phase of our literature during the last decade 
or two, I am brought to the conclusion that 
an authentic portrait, at once aesthetic and 
true to life, presenting the black man as a free 
American citizen, not the humble slave of 



THE SOUTH. 223 

Uncle Tom's Cabin — but the man, divinely 
struggling and aspiring yet tragically warped 
and distorted by the adverse winds of circum- 
stance, has not yet been painted. It is my 
opinion that the canvas awaits the brush of 
the colored man himself. It is a pathetic — a 
fearful arraignment of America's conditions 
of life, that instead of that enrichment from 
the years and days, the summers and springs 
under which, as Browning says, 

" The flowers turn double and the leaves turn flowers, " — 

the black man's native and original flowers 
have in this country been all hardened and 
sharpened into thorns and spurs. In literature 
we have no artists for art's sake. Albery A. 
Whitman in " Twasinta's Seminoles" and 
" Not a Man and Yet a Man" is almost the 
only poet who has attempted a more sustained 
note than the lyrics of Mrs. Harper, and even 
that note is almost a wail. 

The fact is, a sense of freedom in mind as 
well as in body is necessary to the appreciative 
and inspiring pursuit of "the beautiful. A 
bird cannot warble out his fullest and most 
joyous notes while the wires of his cage are 
pricking and cramping him at every heart 
beat. His tones become only the shrill and 
poignant protest of rage and despair. And so 



00 



l'4 A VOICE FROM 

the black man's vexations and chafing envir- 
onment, even since his physical emancipation 
has given him speech, has goaded him into 
the eloquence and fire of oratory rather than 
the genial warmth and cheery glow of either 
poetry or romance. And pity 'tis, 'tis true. 
A race that has produced for America the only 
folk-lore and folk songs of native growth, a 
race which has grown the most original and 
unique assemblage of fable and myth to be 
found on the continent, a race which has sug- 
gested and inspired almost the only distinctive 
American note which could chain the atten- 
tion and charm the ear of the outside world — 
has as yet found no mouthpiece of its own to 
unify and perpetuate its wondrous whisper- 
ings — no painter-poet to distil in the alembic 
of his own imagination the gorgeous dyes, the 
luxuriant juices of this rich and tropical vege- 
tation. It was the glory of Chaucer that he 
justified the English language to itself — that 
he took the homely and hitherto despised 
Saxon elements and ideas, and lovingly wove 
them into an artistic product which even Nor- 
man conceit and uppishness might be glad to 
acknowledge and imitate. The only man who 
is doing the same for Negro folk-lore is one 
not to the manner born. Joel Chandler Harris 



THE SOUTH. 22b 

has made himself rich and famous by simply 
standing around among the black railroad 
hands and cotton pickers of the South and 
compiling the simple and dramatic dialogues 
which fall from their lips. What I hope to see 
before I die is a black man honestly and ap- 
preciatively portraying both the Negro as he 
is, and the white man, occasionally, as seen 
from the Negro's standpoint. 

There is an old proverb " The devil is al- 
ways painted black — by white painters." And 
what is needed, perhaps, to reverse the picture 
of the lordly man slaying the lion, is for the 
lion to turn painter. 

Then too we need the calm clear judgment 
of ourselves and of others born of a disen- 
chantment similar to that of a little girl I 
know in the South, who was once being labor- 
iously held up over the shoulders of a surging 
throng to catch her first glimpse of a real live 
president. " Why Nunny," she cried half 
reproachfully, as she strained, her little neck 
to see — " Ifs nuffin hut a man '!" 

When we have been sized up and written 
"down by others, we need not feel that the last 
word is said and the oracles sealed. "It's 
nuffin but a man." And there are many gifts 
the giftie may gie us, far better than seeing 



226 A VOICE FROM 

ourselves as others see us— and one is that of 
Bion's maxim " Know Thyself." Keep true 
to your own ideals. Be not ashamed of what 
is homely and your own. Speak out and 
speak honestly. Be true to yourself and to 
the message God and Nature meant you to 
deliver. The young David cannot fight in 
Saul's unwieldy armor. Let him simply there- 
fore gird his loins, take up his own parable 
and tell this would-be great. American na- 
tion " A chile's amang ye takin' notes ; " and 
when men act the part of cowards or wild 
beasts, this great silent but open-eyed constit- 
uency has a standard by which they are being 
tried. Know thyself, and know those around 
at their true weight of solid intrinsic man- 
hood without being dazzled by the fact that 
littleness of soul is often gilded with wealth, 
power and intellect. There can be no nobility 
but that of soul, and no catalogue of adventi- 
tious circumstances can wipe out the stain or 
palliate the meanness of inflicting one ruthless, 
cruel wrong. 'Tis not only safer, but nobler, 
grander, diviner, 

"To be that which we destroy 
Than, by destruction, dwell in doubtful joy." 

With this platform to stand on we can with 



THE SOUTH. 227 

clear eye weigh what is written and estimate 
what is done and ourselves paint what is 
true with the calm spirit of those who know 
their cause is right and who believe there is 
a God who judgeth the nations. 



228 A VOICE PROM 



WHAT ARK WE WORTH? 



T once heard Henry Ward Reecher make 
■* this remark: " Were Africa and the Afri- 
cans to sink to-morrow, how much poorer 
would the world be ? A little less gold and 
ivory, a little less coffee, a considerable ripple, 
perhaps, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans 
would come together — that is all ; not a poem, 
not an invention, not a piece of art would be 
missed from the world." 

This is not a flattering statement ; but then 
we do not want flattery if seeing ourselves as 
others see us is to help us in fulfilling the 
higher order, " know thyself." The world is 
often called cold and hard. I don't know 
much about that ; but of one thing I am sure, 
it is intensely practical. Waves of sentiment 
or prejudice may blur its old eyes for a little 
while but you are sure to have your bill pre- 
sented first or last with the inexorable " How 
much owest thou?" What have you pro- 
duced, what consumed? What is your real 
value in the world's economy*? What do you 



THE SOUTH. 229 

give to the world over and above what you 
have cost? What would be missed had you 
never lived? What are you worth? What 
ot actual value would go 'down with you if 
you were sunk into the ocean or buried by an 
earthquake to-morrow ? Show up your cash 
account and your balance sheet. In the final 
reckoning do you belong on the debit or the 
credit side of the account? according to a 
fair and square, an impartial and practical 
reckoning. It is by this standard that society 
estimates individuals ; and by this standard 
finally and inevitably the world will measure 
and judge nations and races. 

It may not be unprofitable then for us to 
address ourselves to the task of casting up 
our account and carefully overhauling our 
books. It may be well to remember at the 
outset that the operation is purely a mathe- 
matical one and allows no room for sentiment. 
The good housewife's pet chicken which sjie 
took when first hatched, fed from her own 
hand and fondled on her bosom as lovingly as 
if it were a babe, is worth no more (for all the 
affection and care lavished on it) when sold 
in the shambles : and that never-to-be-forgot- 
ten black hen that stole into the parlor, flew 
upon the mantel looking for a nest among 



230 A VOICE FROM 

those handsome curios, smashed the severs 
vases and picked the buds from the lovely 
tea rose — so exasperatingly that the good 
woman could never again endure the sight of 
her — this ill-fated bird is worth no less. There 
are sections of this country in which the very 
name of the Negro, even in homeopathic doses, 
stirs up such a storm of feeling that men fairly 
grow wild and are unfit to discuss the simplest 
principles of life and conduct w^here the col- 
ored man is concerned ; and you would think 
it necessary for the Ethiopian actually to 
change his skin before there can be any har- 
monious living or lucid thinking : there are a 
few nooks and crannies, on the other hand, 
in another quarter of the same country, in 
which that name embodies an idealized theory 
and a benevolent sentiment ; and the black 
man (the blacker the better) is the petted 
nursling, the haloed idea, the foregone conclu- 
sion. In these Arcadias, it is as good capital 
as pushing selfishness and aspiring mediocrity 
need ask, to be advertised as one of the op- 
pressed race and probably born a slave. 

But after all sentiment, whether adverse or 
favorable, is ephemeral. Ever shifting and 
unreliable, it can never be counted in estimat- 
ing values. The sentiments of youth are out- 



THE SOUTH. 231 

grown in age, and we like to-day what we 
despised or were indifferent to yesterday. 
Nine-tenths of the mis-called color prejudice 
or race prejudice in this country is mere sen- 
timent governed by the association of ideas. 
It is not color prejudice at all. The color of 
a man's face per se has no more to do with his 
worthiness and companionableness than the 
color of his eyes or the shades of his hair. 
You admire the one or think the other more 
beautiful to rest the gaze upon. But every 
one with brains knows and must admit that 
he must look deeper than this for the man. 
Mrs. Livermore once said in my hearing: "It 
is not that the Negro is black; Spaniards, 
Portuguese, East Indians, enter our parlors, 
sup at our tables, and, if they have a sufficiently 
long bank account, they may marry our daugh- 
ters : but the Negro is weak — and we don't 
like weakness." 

Now this dislike it is useless to inveigh 
against and folly to raile at. We share it our- 
selves and often carry it to a more unjustifia- 
ble extent. For as a rule the narrower the 
mind and the more circumscribed the experi- 
ence, the greater will be the exaggeration of 
accidents over substance, and of circumstance 
over soul. It does no good to argue with the 



232 A VOICE FROM 

poor sea-sick wretch who, even on land after 
the voyage, is nauseated by the sight of clear 
spring water. In vain you show the unrea- 
son of the feeling. This, you explain, is a 
different time, a different place, a different 
stage of progress in the circulation of waters. 
That was salt, this is fresh, and so on. You 
might as well be presenting syllogisms to 
./Etna. " Yes, my dear Fellow," he cries, 
" You talk admirably ; but you don't know 
how I feel. You don't know how sick I was 
on that nasty ship ! " And so your rhetoric 
cannot annihilate the association of ideas. 
He feels ; you know. But he will outgrow^ his 
feeling, — and you are content to wait. 

Just as impervious to reason is the man 
who is dominated by the sentiment of race 
prejudice. You can only consign him to the 
fatherly hand of Time ; and pray that your 
own mental sight be not thus obscured and 
your judgment warped in your endeavors to 
be just and true. 

Sentiment and cant, then, both being ruled 
out, let us try to study our subject as the 
world finally reckons it — not certain crevices 
and crannies of the earth, but the cool, practi- 
cal, business-like world. What are we worth ? 
not in Georgia nor in Massachusetts ; not to 



THE SOUTH. 288 

our brothers and sisters and cousins and aunts, 
every one of whom would unhesitatingly de- 
clare us worth a great gold-lump ; nor to the 
exasperated neighbor over the way who would 
be just as ready, perhaps, to write us down a 
most unmitigated nuisance. But what do we 
represent to the world? What is our market 
value. Are we a positive and additive quantity 
or a negative factor in the world's elements. 
What have we cost and what do we come to ? 
The calculation may be made in the same 
way and on the same principle that we would 
estimate the value of any commodity on the 
market. Men are not very unlike watches. 
We might estimate first the cost of material — 
is it gold or silver or alloy, solid or plated, 
jewelled or sham paste. Settle the relative 
value of your raw material, and next you 
want to calculate how much this value has 
been enhanced by labor, the delicacy and fine- 
ness, the honesty and thoroughness of the 
workmanship ; then the utility and beauty of 
the product and its adaptability to the end 
and purpose of its manufacture ; and lastly is 
there a demand in the market for such an 
article. Does it meet a want, will it go and go 
right? Is it durable and reliable. How of- 
ten do you have to wind it before it runs 



234 A VOICE FROM 

down, how often repair it. Does it keep good 
time and require but little watching and look- 
ing after. And there is no radical difference, 
after all, between the world's way of estimat- 
ing men and our usual way of valuing watches. 
In both the fundamental item is the question 
of material, and then the refining and en- 
hancement of that material through labor, and 
so on through the list. 

What then can we say for our raw ma- 
terial ? 

Again I must preface an apology for any- 
thing unpalatable in our menu. I promised, 
you remember, to leave out the sentiment — 
you may stir it in afterwards, mixing thor- 
oughly according to taste. We must discuss 
facts, candidly and bluntly, without rhetoric 
or cant if we would have a clear light on our 
problem. 

Now whatever notions we may indulge on 
the theory of evolution and the laws of atavism 
or heredity, all concede that no individual 
character receives its raw material newly cre- 
ated and independent of the rock from whence 
it was hewn. No life is bound up within the 
period of its conscious existence. No person- 
ality dates its origin 'from its birthday. The 
elements that are twisted into the cord did 



THE SOUTH. 235 

not begin their formation when first the tiny 
thread became visible in the great warp and 
filling of humanity. When first we saw the 
light many of the threads undoubtedly were 
spun and the color and fineness of the weft 
determined. The materials that go to make 
the man, the probabilities of his character and 
activities, the conditions and circumstances of 
his growth, and his quantum of resistance and 
mastery are the resultant of forces which have 
been accumulating and gathering momentum 
for generations. So that, as one tersely ex- 
presses it, in order to reform a man, you must 
begin with his great grandmother. 

A few years ago a certain social scientist 
was struck b}^ a remarkable coincidence in 
the name of a number of convicts in the State 
prison of New York. There were found thir- 
ty-five or forty men, of the same name with 
but slight modification in the spelling, all con- 
victed of crimes similar in character. Look- 
ing into the matter, he traced them every one 
back to one woman of inferior character who 
had come from England in one of the first 
colonial ships. And that woman had been a 
convict and charged with pretty nearly the same 
crime. 

Rightly to estimate our material, then, it is 



236 A VOICE FROM 

necessary to go back of the twenty or thirty 
years during which we have been in posses- 
sion, and find out the nature of the soil in 
which it has been forming and growing. 

There is or used to be in England a system 
of entail by which a lot of land was fixed to a 
family and its posterity forever, passing al- 
ways on the death of the father to his eldest 
son. A man may misuse or abuse, he may 
impoverish, mortgage, sterilize, eliminate 
every element of value — -but he can never sell. 
He may cut down every tree, burn every fence 
and house, abstract by careless tillage, or by 
no tillage, every nutritive element from the 
soil, encumber it to two or three times its 
value and destroy forever its beauty and fer- 
tility — but he can never rid himself of it. 
That land with all its encumbrances and lia- 
bilities, its barrenness and squalidness, its pov- 
erty and its degradation is inexorably, inevit- 
ably, inalienably his ; and like a shattered and 
debased personality it haunts him wherever 
he goes. An heir coming into an estate is 
thus often poorer than if he had no inheritance. 
He is chained to a life long possession of debt, 
toil, responsibility, often disgrace. Happier 
were it for him if he could begin life with 
nothing — an isolated but free man with no 



THE SOUTH. 237 

capital but his possibilities, with no past and 
no pedigree. And so it often is with men. 
These bodies of ours often come to us mort- 
gaged to their full value by the extravagance, 
self-indulgence, sensuality of some ancestor. 
Some man, generations back, has encumbered 
his estate for strong drink, his descendants 
coming into that estate have the mortgage to 
pay off, principal and interest. Another cut 
down the fences of character by debauchery 
and vice, — and these have to ward off attacks 
of the enemy without bulwarks or embattle- 
ments. They have burnt their houses of 
purity and integrity, have rendered the soil 
poor and unproductive by extravagance and 
folly, — and the children have to shiver amid 
the storms of passion and feed on husks till 
they can build for themselves a shelter and 
fertilize their farms. Not very valuable es- 
tates, you will say. Well, no, — nothing to 
boast of, perhaps. But an energetic heir can 
often pay off some of the liabilities and leave 
the estate to his children less involved than 
when he received it. At least he can arrest 
the w T ork of destruction and see to it that no 
further encumbrances are added through his 
folly and mismanagement. 

In estimating the value of our material, 



238 A VOICE FROM 

therefore, it is plain that we must look 
into the deeds of our estates and ferret 
out their history. The task is an indi- 
vidual one, as likewise its application. Cer- 
tainly the original timber as it came from the 
African forests was good enough. No race of 
heathen are more noted for honesty and chas- 
titv than are the tribes of Africa. For one of 
their women to violate the laws of purity is a 
crime punishable with death ; and so strictly 
honest are they, it is said, that they are wont 
to leave their commodities at the place of ex- 
change and go about their business. The 
buyer coming up takes what he w r ishes to pur- 
chase and leaves its equivalent in barter or 
money. A returned missionary tells the story 
that certain European traders, when at a loss 
as to the safe keeping of their wares, were 
told by a native chief, " Oh just lay them 
down there. They are perfectly safe, there are 
no Christians here" 

Whatever may be said of its beauty, then, 
the black side of the stream with us is pretty 
pure, and has no cause to blush for its honesty 
and integrity. From the nature of the case 
the infusions of white blood that have come 
in many instances to the black race in this 
country are not the best that race afforded. 



THE SOUTH. 239 

And if anything further is needed to account 
for racial irregularities — the warping and 
shrinking, the knotting and cracking of the 
sturdy old timber, the two hundred and fifty 
years of training here are quite sufficient to 
explain all. I have often thought, since com- 
ing in closer contact with the Puritan element 
in America, what a different planing and 
shaping this timber might have received under 
their hands! 

As I compare the Puritan's sound, substan- 
tial, sanctified common sense with the Feudal 
froth and foam of the South; the Puritan's 
liberal, democratic, ethical and at the same 
time calculating, economical, stick-to-ative and 
go-ahead-ative spirit, — with the free and easy 
lavishness, the aristocratic notions of caste 
and class distinctions, the pliable consciences 
and unbending social bars amid which I was 
reared; — I have wished that it might have 
been ordered that as my race had to serve a 
term of bondage it might have been under the 
discipline of the successors of Cromwell and 
Milton, rather than under the training and 
example of the luxurious cavaliers. There is 
no doubt that the past two hundred and fifty 
years of working up the material we now in- 
herit, has depreciated rather than enhanced 



240 A VOICE FROM 

its value. We find in it the foolish ideas of 
aristocracy founded on anything else than a 
moral claim; Ave find the contempt for manual 
labor and the horror of horny palms, the love 
of lavish expenditure and costly display, and 
— alas, that we must own it — the laxness of 
morals and easy-going consciences inherited 
and imitated from the old English gentry of 
the reigns of Charles and Anne. But to know 
our faults is one step toward correcting them, 
and there are, I trust, no flaws in this first 
element of value, material, which may not be 
planed and scraped and sand-papered out by 
diligent and strenuous effort. One thing is 
certain, the flaws that are simply ingrained in 
the timber are not our responsibility. A man 
is to be praised primarily not for having in- 
herited fine tools and faultless materials but 
for making the most of the stuff he has, and 
doing his best in spite of disadvantages and 
poor material. The individual is responsible, 
not for what he has not, but for what he has ; 
and the vital part for us after all depends on 
the use we make of our material. 
f Many a passable article has by diligent 
workmanship been made even from inferior 
material. And this brings us to our second 
item of value — : Labor. 



THE SOUTH. 241 

This is a most important item. It would 
seem sometimes that it is labor that creates all 
value. A gold mine is worth no more than 
common clay till it is worked. The simple 
element of labor bestowed on iron, the cheap- 
est and commonest of metals, multiplies its 
value four hundred thousand times, making it 
worth sixty-five times its weight in gold, e. g.: 

A pound of good iron is worth about 4 cts. 

A pound of inch screws $1.00 

A pound of steel wire from $3-QO to $7.00 

A pound of sewing needles $14.00 

A pound of fish hooks from ..... $20 00 to $50.00 
A pound of jewel screws for watches .... $3,500.00 
A pound of hair springs for watches .... $16,000.00 
While a pound of fine gold in standard coin 

is worth only about $248.00 

Now it is the same fundamental material 
in the hair springs valued at $16,000.00 which 
was sold in the rough at 4 cts. per pound. It 
is labor that has thus enhanced its value. Now 
let us see if there is a parallel rise of value in 
the material of which men are made. 

No animal, the scientists tell us, is in infancy 
so utterly helpless, so completely destitute of 
the means of independent existence, so en- 
tirely worthless in itself as the world estimates 
values, as is man. The chick just out of the 
shell can pick up its own food and ran away 



242 A VOICE FROM 

from approaching danger. Touch a snapping 
turtle just a moment after its birth, and it will 
bite at you. Cut off its head and it will still 
bite. Break open the egg of the young and 
the vivacious little creature will, even in the 
embryo, try to light for its rights and main- 
tain its independence. But the human babe 
can for weeks and months, do nothing but cry 
and feed and fear. It is a constant drain on 
the capital of its parents, both physically and 
mentally. It is to be fed, and worked for, and 
sheltered and protected. It cannot even de- 
fend itself against a draft of wind. 

What is it worth ? Unsentimentally and 
honestly, — it is worth just as much as a leak 
is worth to a ship, or what the mistletoe is 
worth to the oak. He is a parasite, a thief, 
a destroyer of values. He thrives at another's 
expense, and filches from that other every atom 
of his own existence. The infatuated mother, 
it is true, would not sell him, she will tell you, 
for his weight in gold; but that is sentiment 
— not business. Besides, there is no danger 
of her having the chance to make such a bar- 
gain. No one will ever tempt her with any 
such offer. The world knows too w r ell what 
an outlay of time and money and labor must 
be made before he is worth even his weight in 



THE SOUTH. 243 

ashes. His present worth no one would accept 
even as a gift — and it is only the prospect of 
future development of worth that could induce 
any one, save that mother, to take up the 
burden. What an expenditure of toil and 
care, of heart power and brain power, what 
planning, what working, what feeding, what 
enriching, what sowing and sinking of values 
before one can tell whether the harvest is 
worth the output. Yet, how gladly does the 
mother pour out her strength and vitality, tier 
energy, her life that the little bankrupt may 
store up capital for its own use. How r anx- 
iously does she hang over the lumpish little 
organism to catch the first awakening of a 
soul. And when the chubby little hands begin 
to swing consciously before the snapping eyes, 
and the great toe is caught and tugged to- 
wards the open mouth, when the little pink 
fists for the first time linger caressingly on her 
cheek and breast, and the wide open eyes say 
distinctly " I know you, I love you," — how she 
strains him to her bosom as her whole soul 
goes out to this newly found intelligence in 
the impassioned cry of Carlyle : " Whence — 
and Oh Heavens, whither!" 

" How poor, how rich, how abject, how august, 
How complicate, how wonderful is man! " 



244 A VOICE FROM 

It is labor, development, training, careful, pa- 
tient, painful, diligent toil that must span the 
gulf between this vegetating life germ (now 
worth nothing but toil and care and trouble, 
and living purely at the expense of another) — 
and that future consummation in which "the 
elements are so mixed that Nature can stand 
up and say to all the world, ' This is a mart! " 

It is a heavy investment, requires a large 
outlay of money on long time and large risk, 
no end of labor, skill, pains. Education is the 
w^ord that covers it all — the working up of 
this raw material and fitting it into the world's 
work to supply the world's need — the manu- 
facture of men and women for the markets of 
the world. But there is no other labor which 
so creates value. The value of the well de- 
veloped man has been enhanced far more by 
the labor, bestowed than is the iron in the 
watch springs. The value of the raw material 
was far below zero to begin with ; but this 
" quintessence of dust" has become, through 
labor, " the beauty of the world, the paragon 
of animals, — noble in reason and infinite in 
faculty ! " 

What a piece of work, indeed! 

Education, then, is the safest and richest in- 
vestment possible to man. It pays the largest 



THE SOUTH. 245 

dividends and gives the grandest possible pro- 
duct to the world — a man. The demand is 
always greater than the supply — and the world 
pays well for what it prizes. 

Now what sort of workmanship are we put- 
ting on our raw material. What are we do- 
ing for education ? The man-factories among 
our people make, I think, a fairly good show- 
ing. Figures are encouraging things to deal 
with, and too they represent something tangi- 
ble in casting up our accounts. There are 
now 25,530 colored schools in the United 
States with 1,353,352 pupils; the colored peo- 
ple hold in landed property for churches 
and schools $25,000,000. 2,500,000 colored 
children have learned to read and most 
of these to write also. 22,956 colored men 
and women are teaching in these schools. 
There are sixty-six academies and high schools 
and one hundred and fifty schools for advanced 
education taught by colored teachers, together 
with seven colleges administered by colored 
presidents and faculties. There are now one 
thousand college bred Negro ministers in the 
country, 250 lawyers, 749 physicians ; while, 
according to Dr. Rankin, there are 247 colored 
students preparing themselves in the univer- 
sities of Europe. 



246 A VOICE FROM 

The African Methodists alone, representing 
the unassisted effort of the colored people for 
self-development, have founded thirty-eight 
institutes and colleges, with landed property 
valued at $502,650, and 134 teachers sup- 
ported entirely by the self denying effort of 
the colored people themselves. 

This looks like an attempt, to say the least, 
to do the best we can with our material. One 
feels there has not been much shirking here ; 
the workmanship may be crude sometimes, 
when measured by more finished standards, — 
but they have done what they could; in their 
poverty and inexperience, through self denial 
and perseverance, they are struggling upward 
toward the light. 

There is another item to be taken into ac- 
count in estimating the value of a product, to 
which we must give just a thought in passing, 
i. e., the necessary waste of material in the 
making 

The Sultan of Turkey once sent to Ohina 
to procure a fac simile of some elegant plates 
he had had, all of which were now broken but 
one and that, unfortunately, was cracked. 
He sent this one as a pattern and requested 
that the set be renewed exactly like the for- 
mer ones. He was surprised on receiving the 



THE SOUTH. 247 

plates to note the fabulous sum charged for 
them,— but the Celestial explained that the 
cost was greatly increased by having to put in 
the crack, — so many had been lost in the 
making. 

The anecdote is not my own, but it suggests 
a thought 'that may be useful to us and I bor- 
row it for that purpose. They tell us that the 
waste of material is greater in making colored 
men and women than in the case of others — 
that a larger percentage of our children die 
under twenty-one years of age, especially in 
large cities, and that a larger number who 
reach that age and beyond, are to be classed 
among the world's invalids and paupers. Ac- 
cording to the census of 1880 the average 
death rate throughout the country was, among 
the whites 14.74 per 1000 ; among colored 
17.28 per 1000: the highest among whites 
being in New Mexico, 22.04, lowest in Arizona, 
7.91 per 1000. Among colored, the mortality 
ranges from 35.25 in the District of Columbia 
where it is the highest, to 1.89 in Arizona, the 
lowest. 

For 1889 the relative death-rate of the two 
races in the District of Columbia was : whites, 
15.96 per 1000 ; colored, 30.48, about double. In 
1888 they stood 18+ to 30+ ; in 1886 and '87, 



248 A VOICE FROM 

about 17 to 31 ; in '85 and '86, 17 to 32. Es- 
pecially noticeable is the difference in the 
mortality of children. This is simply alarm- 
ing. The report for 1889 shows that out of 
the 5,152 deaths occurring in the District of 
Columbia during that year, 634 were white 
infants under one year old, while 834, an ex- 
cess of 200, within th$ same limits were 
colored. Yet the white population of the 
District outnumbers the colored two to one. 
The Health Commissioner, in his report for 
that year, says: " This material difference in 
mortality may be charged to a great extent to 
the massing of colored people in alleys and 
unhealthy parts of the city and to their un- 
sanitary surroundings : while there is no doubt 
that a very large proportion of these children 
die in consequence of being fed improper and 
unhealthy food, especially cheap and badly 
prepared condensed milk, and cow's milk 
which has been allowed to stand to the point 
of acidity after having been kept in vessels 
badly or unskillfully cleaned." And he adds, 
" if the general statistics of infant mortality 
seem astounding to the public, the cause can 
most frequently be found in the reprehensible 
custom of committing little impoverished 
waifs to hired nurses and foul feeding bottles 



THE SOUTH. 249 

rather than allow them the food that nature 
has provided." 

Now all this unquestionably represents a 
most wanton and flagrant waste of valuable 
material. By sapping out the possibilities of 
a healthy and vigorous existence it is deliber- 
ately and flagitiously breeding and multiply- 
ing paupers, criminals, idiots, drunkards, im- 
beciles and lunatics to infest and tax the 
commonwealth. The number spoiled in the 
making necessarily adds to the cost of those 
who survive. It is like the Sultan's cracked 
dinner-plates. It is no use to go into hysterics 
and explode in Ciceronian phillippics against 
life insurance companies for refusing to insure 
or charging a higher premium for colored 
policies. With them it is simply a question 
of dollars and cents. What are you worth? 
What are your chances, and what does it cost 
to take your risks in the aggregate ? If thirty- 
flve colored persons out of every thousand 
are, from any cause whatever, lost in the 
making, the remaining nine hundred and 
sixty-five will have to share the loss among 
them. This is an unavoidable law. Wo man 
can dissociate himself from his kind. The 
colored gentleman who keeps his horses, fares 
sumptuously, and lives in luxury is made to 



250 A VOICE FROM 

feel the death gasps of every squalid denizen 
of the alley and poor-house. It is God's own 
precaution to temper our self-seeking by bind- 
ing our sympathies and interests indissolubly 
with the helpless and the wretched. 

What our men, of means need to do, then, 
is to devote their money, their enlightened in- 
terest, their careful attention to the improve- 
ment of sanitation among the poor. Let some 
of those who can command real estate in 
healthful localities build sweet and clean and 
wholesome tenements on streets and rent them 
at reasonable rates to the worthy poor who 
are at present forced into association with the 
vileness and foulness of alleys and filthy 
courts by the unfeeling discrimination of white 
dealers. Let some colored capitalists buy up 
a few of those immense estates in the South, 
divide them into single farms with neat, 
cheery, well-ventilated, healthsome cottages 
to be rented to the colored tenants who are 
toiling all these weary years in the one-room 
log hut, like their own cheerless mules— just 
to fodder themselves. 

In cities, low priced houses on streets are 
almost uniformly kept for the white poor. I 
know of numerous houses in Washington the 
rent of which is no dearer than colored peo- 



THE SOUTH. 251 

pie are paying in alleys — but the advertise- 
ment says, " not rented to colored people." 
If the presence of a colored tenant in a neigh- 
borhood causes property to depreciate, it may 
be a question of sentiment, — it must be a 
question of business. The former it is super- 
fluous to inveigh against or even to take cog- 
nizance of. It is possibly subject to enlighten- 
ment, and probably a sickness not unto death. 
But the practical reason underlying it is di- 
rectly our concern and should command our 
energetic consideration. It is largely a ques- 
tion of what are we worth — and as such, sub- 
ject to our immediate responsibility and 
amendment. If improvement is possible, if it 
is in our power to render ourselves valuable to 

JL 

a community or neighborhood, it should be 
the work of the earnest and able men and 
women among us, the moral physicians and 
reformers, to devise and apply a remedy. 
Sure it is that the burden rests on all till the 
deliverance comes. The richest and most 
highly favored cannot afford to be indifferent 
or to rest quietly complacent. 

In rural districts, the relative mortality of 
colored people is not so excessive, still the 
poverty and destitution, the apparent dearth 
of accumulation notwithstanding ceaseless 



2^2 A VOICE FROM 

drudging toil is something phenomenal in 
labor statistics. I confess I have felt little 
enthusiasm for the labor riots which seem 
epidemic at the North. Carnegie's men at 
Homestead, for instance, were among the best 
paid workmen in the country, receiving many 
of them $240 per month, living luxuriously, 
dictating their own terms as to who should 
work with them, how many hours, and what 
special labor they will perform. Their em- 
ployers are forced to hire so many and such 
men — for these laboring despots insist on an 
exact division of labor, no one must be called 
on to work outside his specialty. Then they 
must share profits, but be excused from all 
concern in losses — a patent adjustable sliding 
scale for wages which slides up beautifully, but 
never down ! If the Northern laboring man has 
not become a tyrant, I would like to know 
what tyranny is. 

But I wonder how many know that there 
are throughout the Southland able bodied, 
hard working men, toiling year in and year 
out, from sunrise to dusk, for fifty cents per 
day, out of which they must feed and shelter 
and clothe themselves and their families ! 
That they often have to take their wage in 
tickets convertible into meat, meal and molas,- 



THE SOUTH. 253 

ses at the village grocery, owned by the same 
ubiquitous employer ! That there are tenants 
holding leases on farms who toil sixteen 
hours to the day and work every chick and 
child in their posession, not sparing even the 
drudging wife — -to find at the end of the har- 
vesting season and the squaring up of accounts 
that their accumulations have been like gath- 
ering water in a sieve. 

Do you ask the cause of their persistent 
poverty ? It is not found in the explanation 
often vouchsafed by the white landlord — that 
the Negro is indqlent, improvident and vi- 
cious. Taking them man for man and dollar 
for dollar, I think you will find the Negro, in 
ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, not a whit 
behind the Anglo-Saxon of equal chances. It 
is a fact which every candid man who rides 
through the rural districts in the South will 
admit, that in progressive aspirations and in- 
dustry the Negro is ahead of the white man 
of his chances. Indeed it would not be hard 
to show that the white man of his chances does 
not exist. The " Crackers " and " poor-whites " 
were never slaves, were never oppressed or 
discriminated against. Their time, their earn- 
ings, their activities have always been at their 
own disposal ; and pauperism in their case can 



254 A VOICE FROM 

be attributed to nothing but stagnation, — 
moral, mental, and physical immobility: while 
in the case of the Negro, poverty can at least be 
partially accounted for by the hard conditions 
of life and labor, — the past oppression and 
continued repression which form" the vital 
air in which the Negro lives and moves and 
has his being. 

One often hears in the North an earnest 
plea from some lecturer for " our working 
girls" (of course this means white working 
girls). And recently I listened to one who 
went into pious agonies at the thought of the 
future mothers of Americans having to stand 
all day at shop counters ; and then advertised 
with applause a philanthropic firm who were 
giving their girls a trip to Europe for rest and 
recreation ! I am always glad to hear of the 
establishment of reading rooms and social en- 
tertainments to brighten the lot of any women 
who are toiling for bread — whether they are 
white women or black women. But how 
many have ever given a thought to the pinched 
and down-trodden colored women bending 
over wash-tubs and ironing boards — with 
children to feed and house rent to pay, wood 
to buy, soap and starch to furnish — lugging 
home weekly great baskets of clothes for 



THE SOUTH. 255 

families who pay them for a month's laundry - 
ing barely enough to purchase a substantial 
pair of shoes ! 

Will you call it narrowness and selfishness, 
then, that I find it impossible to catch the fire 
of sympathy and enthusiasm for most of these 
labor movements at the North ? 

I hear these foreigners, who would boycott 
an employer if he hired a colored workman, 
complain of wrong and oppression, of low 
wages and long hours, clamoring for eight- 
hour systems and insisting on their right to 
have sixteen of the twenty-four hours for rest 
and self-culture, for recreation and social in- 
tercourse with families and friends — ah, come 
with me, I feel like saying, I can show you 
workingmen's wrong and workingmen's toil 
which, could it speak, would send up a wail 
that might be heard from the Potomac to the 
Rio Grande; and should it unite and act, would 
shake this country from Carolina to California. 

But no man careth for their souls. The 
labor interests of the colored man in this coun- 
try are as yet dumb and limp. The unorgan- 
ized mass has found neither tongue nor nerve. 
In the free and liberal North, thanks to the 
amalgamated associations and labor unions 
of immigrant laborers, who cannot even speak 



256 A VOICE FROM 

English, — the colored man is relegated to the 
occupations of waiter and barber, unless he 
has a taste for school teaching or politics. A 
body of men who still need an interpreter 
to communicate with their employer, will 
threaten to cut the nerve and paralyze the 
progress of an industry that gives work to an 
American-born citizen, or one which takes 
measures to instruct any apprentice not sup- 
ported by the labor monopoly. A skilled 
mechanic, a friend of mine, secured a job in 
one of our cities and was seen by union men 
at work on his house. He was immediately 
ordered in murderous English to take down 
his scafiblding and leave the town. Refusing 
to do so, before night he was attacked by a 
force that overwhelmed him and he was 
obliged to leave. Such crushing opposition is 
not alone against colored persons. These 
amalgamated and other unions hold and are 
determined to continue holding an impene- 
trable monopoly on the labor market, assum- 
ing supreme censorship as regards the knowl- 
edge and practice of their trade. 

In the South, on the other hand, where the 
colored man virtually holds the labor market, 
he is too uncertain and unorganized to de- 
mand anything like a fair share of the pro- 



THE SOUTH. 257 

ducts of his toil. And yet the man who 
thinks,, must see that our labor interests lie at 
the foundation of our material prosperity. 
The growth of the colored man in this country 
must for a long time yet be estimated on his 
value and productiveness as a laborer. In 
adding up the account the aggregate of the 
great toiling mass largely overbalances the few 
who have acquired means and leisure. The 
nation judges us as workingmen, and poor 
indeed is that man or race of men who are 
compelled to toil all the weary years minister- 
ing to no higher want than that of bread. To 
feed is not the chief function of this material 
that has fallen to our care to be developed and 
perfected. It is an enormous waste of values 
to harness the whole man in the narrow fur- 
row, plowing for bread. There are other 
hungerings in man besides the eternal all- 
subduing hungering of his despotic stomach. 
There is the hunger of the eye for beauty, the 
hunger of the ear for concords, the hungering 
of the mind for development and growth, of 
the soul for communion and love, for a higher, 
richer, fuller living — a more abundant life! 
And every man owes it to himself to let noth- 
ing in him starve for lack of the proper food. 
" What is man," says Shakespeare, " if his 



258 A VOICE FROM ' 

chief good and market of his time be but to 
sleep and feed! " Yet such slavery as that is 
the settled lot of four-fifths the laboring men 
of the Southland. This, I contend, is an 
enormous, a profligate waste of the richest 
possibilities and the divinest aptitudes. And 
we owe it to humanity, we owe it pre- 
eminently to those of our own household, to 
enlarge and enrich, so far as in us lies, the 
opportunity and grasp of every soul we can 
emancipate. Surely there is no greater boon 
we can bestow on our fellow-man in this life, 
none that could more truly command his deep- 
est gratitude and love, than to disclose to his 
soul its possibilities and mend its opportun- 
ities, — to place its rootlets in the generous 
loam, turn its leaves towards the gracious 
dews and warm sunlight of heaven and let it 
grow, let it mature in foliage, flower and fruit 
for God and the race ! Philanthropy will de- 
vise means— an object is not far to seek. 

Closely akin to the value that may be said 
to have been wasted through the inclemency 
and barrenness of circumstance, through the 
sickness, sin and death that wait on poverty 
and squalor, a large item of worth has un- 
doubtedly been destroyed by mistaken and 
unscientific manufacture — foolhardy educators 



THE SOUTH. 259 

rashly attempting to put in some theoretically 
desirable crack — the classical crack, or the 
professional crack, or the artistic-sesthetic- 
accomplishments crack — into material better 
fitted for household pottery and common 
every-day stone and iron ware. I want noth- 
ing I may say to be construed into an attack 
on classical training or on art development 
and culture. I believe in allowing every long- 
ing of the human soul to attain its utmost 
reach and grasp. But the effort must be a 
fizzle which seeks to hammer souls into pre- 
contracted molds and grooves which they 
have never longed for and cannot be made to 
take comfort in. The power of appreciation 
is the measure of an individual's aptitudes ; 
and if a boy hates Greek and Latin and spends 
all his time whittling out steamboats, it is 
rather foolish to try to force him into the 
classics. There may be a locomotive in him, 
but there is certainly no foreshadowing evi- 
dence of either the teacher or preacher. It is 
a waste of forces to strain his incompetence, 
and smother his proficiencies. If his hand is 
far more cunning and clever than his brain, 
see what he can best do, and give him a chance 
according to his fitness ; try him at a trade. 
Industrial training has been hitherto neg- 



260 A VOICE FROM 

lected or despised among us, due, I think, as I 
have said elsewhere, to two causes: first, a 
mistaken estimate of labor arising from its 
association with slavery and from its having 
been despised by the only class in the South 
thought worthy of imitation ; and secondly, 
the fact that the Negro's ability to work had 
never been called in question, while his ability 
to learn Latin and construe Greek syntax 
needed to be proved to sneering critics. 
" Scale the heights!" was the cry. " Go to 
college, study Latin, preach, teach, orate, wear 
spectacles and a beaver ! " 

Stung by such imputations as that of Cal- 
houn that if a Negro could prove his ability to 
master the Greek subjunctive he might vindi- 
cate his title to manhood, the newly liberated 
race first shot forward along this line with an 
energy and success which astonished its most 
sanguine friends. 

This may not have been most wise. It cer- 
tainly was quite natural ; and the result is w r e 
find ourselves in almost as ludicrous a plight 
as the African in the story, who, after a ser- 
mon from his missionary pleading for the ha- 
biliments of civilization, complacently donned 
a Gladstone hat leaving the rest of his body 
in its primitive simplicity of attire. Like him 



THE SOUTH. 261 

we began at the wrong end. Wealth must 
pave the way for learning. Intellect, whether 
of races or individuals, cannot soar to the con- 
summation of those sublime products which 
immortalize genius, while the general mind 
is assaulted and burdened with " what shall 
we eat, what shall we drink, and wherewithal 
shall we be clothed." Work must first create 
wealth, and wealth leisure, before the untram- 
meled intellect of the Negro, or any other 
race, can truly vindicate its capabilities. Some- 
thing has been done intellectually we all 
know. That one black man has written a 
Greek grammar is enough to answer Calhoun's 
sneer ; but it is leisure, the natural outgrowth 
of work and wealth, which must furnish room, 
opportunity, possibility for the highest en- 
deavor and most brilliant achievement. Labor 
must be the solid foundation stone — the sine 
qua non of our material value ; and the only 
effective preparation for success in this, as it 
seems to me, lies in the establishment of in- 
dustrial and technical schools for teaching our 
colored youth trades. This necessity is obvi- 
ous for several reasons. First, a colored child, 
in most cases, can secure a trade in no other 
way. We had master mechanics while the 
Negro was a chattel, and the ingenuity of 



262 A VOICE FROM 

brain and hand served to enrich the coffers of 
his owner. But to-day skilled labor is stead- 
ily drifting into the hands of white workmen 
— mostly foreigners. Here it is cornered. 
The white engineer holds a tight monopoly 
both of the labor market and of the science of 
his craft. Nothing would induce him to take 
a colored apprentice or even to work beside a 
colored workman. Unless then trades are to 
fall among the lost arts for us as a people, 
they must be engrafted on those benevolent 
institutions for Negro training established 
throughout the land. The youth must be 
taught to use his trigonometry in surveying 
his own and his neighbor's farm ; to employ 
his geology and chemistry in finding out the 
nature of the soil, the constituents drafted 
from it by each year's crop and the best way 
to meet the demand by the use of suitable re- 
newers ; to apply his mechanics and physics to 
the construction and handling of machinery — 
to the intelligent management of iron works 
and water works and steam works and electric 
works. One mind in a family or in a town 
may show a penchant for art, for literature, 
for the learned professions, or more bookish 
lore. You will know it when it is there. No 
need to probe for it. It is a light that cannot 



THE SOUTH. 263 

be hid under a bushel — -and I would try to en- 
able that mind to go the full length of its de- 
sires. Let it follow its bent and develop its 
talent as far as possible : and the whole com- 
munity might well be glad to contribute its 
labor and money for the sustenance and culti- 
vation of this brain. Just as earth gives its 
raw material, its carbons, hydrogen, and oxy- 
gen, for the tree which is to elaborate them 
into foliage, flower and fruit, so the baser ele- 
ments, bread and money furnished the true 
brain worker come back to us with compound 
interest in the rich thought, the invention, 
the poem, the painting, the statue. Only let 
us recognize our assignment and not squander 
our portion in over fond experiments. James 
Russell Lowell says, " As we cannot make a 
silk purse out of a sow's ear, no more can we 
perform the opposite experiment without hav- 
ing a fine lot of spoiled silk on our hands." 

With most of us, however, the material, 
such as it is, has been already delivered. The 
working of it up is also well under way. The 
gold, the silver, the wood, the hay, the stub- 
ble, whatever there was at hand has all gone 
in. Now can the world use it? Is there a 
demand for it, does it perform the functions 
for which it was made, and is its usefulness 



2(U A VOICE FROM 

greater than the cost of its production ? Does 
it pay expenses and have anything over. 

The world in putting these crucial questions 
to men and women, or to races and nations, 
classifies them under two heads— as consumers 
or producers. The man who consumes as 
much as he produces is simply nil. It is no 
matter to the world economically speaking 
whether he is in it or out of it. He is merely 
one more to count in taking the census. The 
man who consumes more than he produces is 
a destroyer of the world's wealth and should 
be estimated precisely as the housekeeper es- 
timates moths and mice. These are the 
world's parasites, the shirks, the lazy lubbers 
who hang around rum shops and enter into mu- 
tual relationships with lamp posts to bear each 
the other's burdens, moralizing all the while 
(wondrous moralists and orators they often 
are ! ) and insisting that the world owes them 
a living ! To be sure the world owes them 
nothing of the kind. The world would con- 
sider it a happy riddance from bad rubbish if 
they would pay up their debt and move over 
to Mars. Every day they live their unpro- 
ductive bodies sink and destroy a regular por- 
tion of the world's values. At the very lowest 
estimate, a boy who has reached the age of 



THE SOUTH. 265 

twenty, has already burned up between three 
and four thousand dollars of the world's pos- 
sessions. This is on the very closest and most 
economical count ; I charge him nothing for 
fuel or lights, allowing him to have warmed 
by fires that would have burned for others 
and estimating the cost simply of what he has 
eaten and worn, i. e. the amount which he has 
actually sunk of the world's wealth. I put 
his board at the moderate sum of ten dollars 
per month, and charge him the phenomenally 
small amount of thirty dollars a year for cloth- 
ing and incidentals. This in twenty years 
gives him a debt of three thousand dollars, 
which no honest man should be willing to 
leave the world without settling. The world 
does not owe them a living then — the world 
only waits for them to square up and change 
their residence. It is only they who produce 
more than they consume, that the world owes, 
or even acknowledges as having any practical 
value. 

Now to which class do we belong? The 
question must in the first place be an indi- 
vidual one for every man of whatever race : 
Am I giving to the world an equivalent of 
what it has given and is giving me? Have I 
a margin on the outside of consumption for 



266 A VOICE FROM 

surplus production ? We owe it to the world 
to give out at least as much as we have taken 
in, but if we aim to be accounted a positive 
value we must leave it a little richer than we 
found it. The boy who dies at twenty leaving 
three thousand dollars in bank to help another, 
has just paid expenses. If he lives longer it 
increases his debit and should be balanced by 
a corresponding increase on the credit side. 
The life that serves to develop another, the 
mother who toils to educate her boy, the father 
who invests his stored-up capital in education, 
giving to the world the energies and usefulness 
of his children trained into a well disciplined 
manhood and womanhood has paid his debt in 
the very richest coin, — a coin which is always 
legal tender, a priceless gift, the most precious 
payment we can make for what we have re- 
ceived. And we may be sure, if we can give 
no more than a symmetric life, an inspiring 
thought, a spark caught from a noble en- 
deavor, its value will not be lost. 

Previous to 1793 America was able to pro- 
duce unlimited quantities of cotton, but unable 
to free the fibre from the seeds. Eli Whitney 
came to the rescue of the strangled industry 
and perfected a machine which did the work 
needed. The deliverance which he wrought 



THE SOUTH. 267 

was complete. The following year America's 
exports of cotton to England were increased 
from not one pound in previous years to 
1,600,000 pounds. He gave dollars. 

Just before the battle of Quebec Wolf re- 
peated and enjoyed Gray's Elegy saying he 
valued that gem more highly than the capture 
of the city before which he was encamped. 
The next day the city was taken and Wolf 
was laid to rest. But the world is in debt to 
both the poet and the soldier— a boundless 
debt, to the one for an eternal thought-gem, 
to the other for immortal heroism and devoted 
patriotism. 

Once there lived among men One whom 
sorrowing millions for centuries since have 
joyed to call friend — One whose " come unto 
me ye that are heavy laden " has given solace 
and comfort to myriads of the human race. 
He gave a life. 

We must as individuals compare our cost 
with what we are able to give. The worth of 
a race or a nation can be but the aggregate 
worth of its men and women. While we 
need not indulge in offensive boasting, it may 
not be out of place in a land where there is 
some adverse criticism and not a little unrea- 
sonable prejudice, quietly to take account of 



268 A VOICE FROM 

stock and see if we really represent a value in 
this great American commonwealth. The 
average American is never too prejudiced, I 
think, to have a keen appreciation for the 
utilities ; and he is certainly not behind the 
rest of the world in his clear perception of the 
purchasing power of a dollar. Beginning 
here, then, I find that, exclusive of the billions 
of wealth given by them to enrich another race 
prior to the passage of the Thirteenth Amend- 
ment, the colored people of America to-day 
hold in their own right $264,000,000 of taxable 
property ; and this is over and above the 
$50,000,000 which collapsed in the Freedman's 
Savings Bank when that gigantic iniquity 
paralyzed the hope and shocked the faith of 
an inexperienced and unfinancial people. 

One would like to be able to give reliable 
statistics of the agricultural and mechanical 
products of the colored laborer, but so far I 
have not been able to obtain them. It is a 
modest estimate, I am sure, to ascribe fully 
two-thirds of the 6,940,000 bales of cotton pro- 
duced in 1888 to Negro cultivation. The re- 
ports give estimates only in bulk as to the pro- 
ducts of a state or county. Our efficient and 
capable census enumerators never draw th'e 
color line on labor products. You have no 



THE SOUTH. 269 

trouble in turning to the page that shows ex- 
actly what percentage of colored people are illit- 
erate, or just how many have been condemned 
by the courts ; no use taking the trouble to 
specify whether it was for the larceny of a gin- 
ger cake, or for robbing a bank of a cool half 
million and skipping off to Canada : it's all 
crime of course, and crime statistics and illit- 
eracy statistics must be accurately detailed — 
and colored. 

Similar commendable handling meets the col- 
ored producer from the managers of our Big 
American Show at Chicago which we are all so 
nervously anxious shall put the best foot fore- 
most in bowing to the crowned heads and the 
gracious lords and ladies from over the waters. 
To allow any invention or mechanism, art or 
farm product to be accredited a black man 
would be drawing the color line ! And our 
immaculate American could never be guilty of 
anything so vile as drawing a color line ! ! ! 

I am unable to say accurately, then, just 
how many bales of cotton, pounds of tobacco, 
barrels of molasses and bushels of corn and 
wheat are given to the world through Negro 
industry. The same difficulty is met in secur- 
ing authentic information concerning their 
inventions and patents. The records of the 



270 A VOICE FROM 

Patent Office at Washington do not show 
whether a patentee is white or colored. And 
all inventions and original suggestions made 
by a colored man before emancipation were 
necessarily accredited to some white individ- 
ual, a slave not being able to take the oath 
administered to the applicant for a patent. 
Prof. Wright, however, by simply collecting 
through personal inquiry the number of colored 
patentees which could be remembered and 
identified by examiners and attorneys pract- 
icing before the Patent Office authorities, pub- 
lished upwards of fifty in the A. M. E. Review 
for April, 1886. Doubtless this number was 
far within the truth, and many new patents 
have been taken out since his count was made. 
Almost daily in my walk I pass an ordinary 
looking black man, who, I am told, is consid- 
ering an offer of $30,000 for his patent rights 
on a corn planter, which, by the way, has 
been chosen as part of the Ohio exhibit for 
the Columbian Exposition. He has secured 
as many as half a dozen patents within a few 
years and is carrying around a " new machine " 
in his head every day. 

Granville Wood, of Cincinnati, has given 
valuable returns to the world as an electrician ; 
and there is no estimating the money in the 



THE SOUTH. 271 

outright gift of this people through unremu- 
nerated toil. The Negro does not always 
show a margin over and above consumption ; 
but this does not necessarily in his case prove 
that he is not a producer. During the agita- 
tions for adverse legislation against the Chinese, 
the charge was alleged that they spent noth- 
ing in the country. They hoarded their earn- 
ings, lived on nothing, and finally returned to 
China to live in luxury and to circulate the 
wealth amassed in this country. A similar 
complaint can never be lodged against the 
Negro. Poor fellow, he generally lives pretty 
well up to his income. He labors for little 
and spends it all. He has never yet gained 
the full consent of his mind to " take his gruel 
a little thinner " till his little pile has grown a 
bit. He does not like to seem short. And 
had he the wage of a thousand a year his big- 
heartedness would immediately put him under 
the painful necessity, of having it do the en- 
tertainment of five thousand. He must eat, 
and is miserable if he can't dress ; and seems 
on the whole internally fitted every way to 
the style and pattern of a millionaire, rather 
than to the plain, plodding, stingy old path 
of common sense and economy. This is a 
flaw in the material of the creature. The 



272 A VOICE FROM 

grain just naturally runs that way. If our 
basal question of economics were put to him : 
" What do you give — are you adding something 
every year to the world 7 s stored up capital? 77 
His ingenuous answer would be, as the ghost 
of a smile flits across his mobile lips — - u Yea, 
Lord ; I give back all. I am even now living 
on the prospects of next year's income. I 
give my labor at accommodation rates, and 
forthwith reconvert my wages into the general 
circulation. Funds, somehow, don't seem to 
stick to me. I have no talents, or smaller 
coins either, hid in a napkin." It will be well 
for him to learn, however, that it is not what 
we make but what we save that constitutes 
wealth. The hod-carrier who toils for $1.50 a 
day, spending the dollar and laying np the 
half, is richer than the congressman with an 
annual income of $5000 and annual duns of 
$8000. What he most urgently needs to 
learn is systematic saving. He works hard 
enough generally — but does not seem able to 
retrench expenses — to cut off the luxuries 
which people of greater income and larger 
foresight, seeing to be costly and unnecessary 
would deny themselves. He wants to set to 
work vigorously to widen the margin outside 
the expenditures. He cannot be too deeply 



THE SOUTH. 273 

impressed with the fact that tobacco and 
liquors — even leaving out their moral aspects 
— are too costly to be indulged in by any who 
are not living on the interest of capital ready 
in store. A man living on his earnings should 
eschew luxuries, if he wishes to produce 
wealth. But when those luxuries deteriorate 
manhood, they impoverish and destroy the 
most precious commodity we can offer the 
world. 

For after all, the highest gifts are not meas- 
urable in dollars and cents. Beyond and 
above the class who run an account with the 
world and merely manage honestly to pay in 
kind for what they receive, there is a noble 
army — the Shakespeares and Miltons, the 
Newtons, Galileos and Darwins, — Watts, 
Morse, Howe, Lincoln, Garrison, John Brown 
— a part of the world's roll of honor — whose 
price of board and keep dwindles into noth- 
ingness when compared with what the world 
owes them; men who have taken of the 
world's bread and paid for it in immortal 
thoughts, invaluable inventions, new facilities, 
heroic deeds of loving self-sacrifice ; men who 
dignify the world for their having lived in it 
and to whom the world will ever bow in grate- 
ful worship as its heroes and benefactors. It 



274 A VOICE FROM 

may not be ours to stamp our genius in en- 
during characters— but we can give what we 
are at its best. 

Visiting the slave market in Boston one 
day in 1761, Mrs. John Wheatley was at- 
tracted by the modest demeanor and intelli- 
gent countenance of a delicate looking black 
girl just from the slave ship. She was quite 
nude save for a piece of coarse carpet she had 
tied about her loins, and the only picture she 
could give of her native home was that she 
remembered her mother in the early morning 
every day pouring out water before the rising 
sun. The benevolent Mrs. Wheatley expended 
some labor in polishing up this crude gem, 
and in 1773 the gifted Phillis gave to the world 
a small octavo volume of one hundred and 
twenty precious pages, published in London 
and dedicated to the Countess of Huntingdon. 
In 1776, for some lines she had sent him, she 
received from the greatest American the fol- 
lowing tribute dated at Cambridge : 

Miss Phillis : — . . . I thank you most sincerely for 
your polite notice of me in the elegant lines you enclosed; 
and however undeserving I may be of such encomium and 
panegyric, the style and manner exhibit a striking proof of 
your poetical talents; in honor of which and as a tribute 
justly due to you, I would have published the poem had I 
not been apprehensive that, while I only meant to give the 



THE SOUTH. 275 

world this new instance of your genius, I might have in- 
curred the imputation of vanity. This and nothing else 
determined me not to give it place in the public prints. If 
you should ever come to Cambridge or near headquarters, I 
shall be happy to see a person so favored by the Muses, and 
to whom nature has been so liberal and beneficent in her 
dispensations. I am, with great respect, 

Your obedient humble servant, 
George Washington. 

That girl paid her debts in song. 

In South Carolina there are two brothers, col- 
ored men, who own and conduct one of the most 
extensive and successful farms in this country 
for floriculture. Their system of irrigating and 
fertilizing is the most scientific in the state, 
and by their original and improved methods 
of grafting and cultivating they have produced 
a new and rich variety of the rose called 
Loiseaux, from their name. Their roses are 
famous throughout Europe and are specially 
prized by the French for striking and marvel- 
lous beauty. The Loiseaux brothers send out 
the incense of their grateful returns to the 
world in the siveet fragrance of roses. 

Some years ago a poor and lowly orphan 
girl stood with strange emotions before a 
statue of Benjamin Franklin in Boston. Her 
bosom heaved and her eyes filled as she whis- 
pered between her clenched teeth, " Oh, how 



L'70 A VOICE FROM 

I would like to make a stone man ? " "Wm. 
Lloyd Garrison became her providence and 
enlarged her opportunity ; she paid for it in 
giving to the world the Madonna with the 
Christ and adoring Angels, now in the collec- 
tion of the Marquis of Bute. From her studio 
in Rome Edmonia Lewis, the colored sculp- 
tress, continues to increase the debt of the 
world to her by her graceful thoughts in the 
chaste marble. 

On May 27, 1863, a mixed body of troops in 
blue stood eagerly expectant before a rebel 
stronghold. On the extreme right of the line, 
a post of honor and of danger, were stationed 
the Negro troops, the first and third regiments 
of the Louisiana Native Guards. On going 
into action, says an eye witness, they were 
1080 strong, and formed into four lines, Lieut. - 
Colonel Bassett, 1st Louisiana, forming the 
first line, and Lieut. -Colonel Henry Finnegas 
the second. Before any impression had been 
made upon the earth works of the enemy, and 
in full face of the batteries belching forth their 
sixty-two pounders, the order to charge was 
given, — and the black regiment rushed forward 
to encounter grape, canister, shell and mus- 
ketry, having no artillery but two small how- 
itzers — which seemed mere pop-guns to their 



THE SOUTH. 277 

adversaries — and with no reserve whatever. 
The terrible fire from the rebel guns upon the 
unprotected masses mowed them down like 
grass. Colonel Bassett being driven back, 
Colonel Finnegas took his place, and his men 
being similarly cut to pieces, Bassett reformed 
and recommenced. And thus these brave fel- 
lows went on from 7 o'clock in the morning 
till 3:30 p. m., under the most hideous carnage 
that men ever had to withstand. During this 
time they rallied and were ordered to make 
six distinct charges, losing thirty-seven killed, 
one hundred and fifty-five wounded, and one 
hundred and sixteen missing, " the majority, 
if not all of these," adds a correspondent of 
the New York Times, who was an eye witness 
of the fight, " being in all probability now lying 
dead on the gory field without the rights of 
sepulture ! for when, by flag of truce our forces 
in other directions were permitted to reclaim their 
dead, the benefit, through some neglect, was not 
extended to these black regiments" 

" The deeds of heroism," he continues, " per- 
formed by these colored men were such as the 
proudest white men might emulate. Their 
colors are torn to pieces by shot, and literally 
bespattered by blood and brains. The color- 
sergeant of the 1st La. on being mortally 



278 A VOICE FROM 

wounded, hugged the colors to his breast when 
a struggle ensued between the two color-cor- 
porals on each side of him as to who should 
bear the sacred standard — and during this 
generous contention one of the corporals 
was wounded. One black lieutenant mounted 
the enemy's works three or four times, 
and in one charge the assaulting party came 
within fifty paces of them. If only ordin- 
arily supported by artillery and reserve, 
no one can convince us that they would 
not have opened a passage through the 
enemy's works. Captain Callioux, of the 1st 
La., a man so black that he prided himself on 
his blackness, died the -death of a hero leading 
on his men in the thickest of the fight. One 
poor wounded fellow came along with his arm 
shattered by a shell, jauntily swinging it with 
the other, as he said to a friend of mine : 
' Massa, guess I can fight no more.' I was 
with one of the captains looking after the 
wounded, when we met one limping along 
toward the front. Being asked where he was 
going, he said, < I been shot in de leg, cap'n, 
an' dey wants me to go to de hospital — but I 
reckon I c'n gib 'em some mo' yit.' " 

Says Major-General Banks in the report 
from Headquarters of the Army of the Gulf, 



THE SOUTH. 279 

before Port Hudson, May 30, 1863, writing to 
Major-General Halleck, General-in-Chief at 
Washington: " The position occupied by the 
Negro troops was one of importance and called 
for the utmost steadiness and bravery in those 
to whom it was confided. It gives me pleas- 
ure to report that they answered every expec- 
tation. Their conduct was heroic. No troops 
could be more determined or more daring." 

" 'Charge! ' Trump and drum awoke, 
Onward the bondmen broke ; 
Bayonet and sabre-stroke 
Vainly opposed their rush. 
Through the wild battle's crush, 
With but one thought aflush, 
Driving their lords like chaff, 
In the guns' mouths they laugh; 
Or at the slippery brands 
Leaping with open hands, 
Down they bear man and horse, 
Down in their awful course ; 
Trampling with bloody heel 
Over the crashing steel, 
All their eyes forward bent, 
Rushed the black regiment. 

i Freedom ! ' their battle-cry — 
' Freedom ! or leave to die ! ' 
Ah! and they meant the word, 
Not as with us 'tis heard, 
Not a mere party-shout : 
They gave their spirits out. 



280 A VOICE FROM 

Trusted the end to God, 

And on the gory sod 

Rolled in triumphant blood! " 

And thus they paid their debt. " They gave 
— their spirits out !" 

In the heart of what is known as the 
" Black Belt " of Alabama and within easy 
reach of the great cotton plantations of Geor- 
gia, Mississippi, and Florida, a devoted young 
colored man ten years ago started a school 
with about thirty Negro children assembled 
in a comical looking shanty at Tuskegee. His 
devotion was contagious and his work grew ; 
an abandoned farm of 100 acres was secured 
and that gradually grew to 640 acres, largely 
wood-land, on which a busy and prosperous 
school is located ; and besides a supply farm 
was added, of heavy ,rich land, 800 acres, from 
which grain and sugar cane are main products. 
Since 1881, 2,947 students have been taught 
here, of whom 102 have graduated, while 200 
more have received enough training to fit 
them to do good work as teachers, intelligent 
farmers, and mechanics. The latest enroll- 
ment shows girls, 247 ; boys, 264. Of the 102 
graduates, 70 per cent, are teachers, ministers 
and farmers. They usually combine teaching 
and farming. Three are printers (learned the 



THE SOUTH. 281 

trades at school), one is a tinner, one a black- 
smith, one a wheel-wright, three are mer- 
chants, three are carpenters, others in the 
professions or filling miscellaneous positions. 

That man is paying his debt by giving to this 
country living, working, consecrated men and 
* women ! 

Now each can give something. It may not 
be a poem, or marble bust, or fragrant flower 
even; it may not be ours to place our lives on 
the altar of country as a loving sacrifice, or 
even to devote our living activities so exten- 
sively as B. T. Washington to supplying the 
world's need for strong and willing helpers. 
But we can at least give ourselves. Each can 
be one of those strong willing helpers — even 
though nature has denied him the talent of 
endlessly multiplying his force. And nothing 
less can honorably cancel our debt. Each is 
under a most sacred obligation not to squander 
the material committed to him, not to sap its 
strength in folly and vice, and to see at the 
least that he delivers a product worthy the 
labor and cost which have been expended on 
him. A sound manhood, a true womanhood 
is a fruit which the lowliest can grow. And 
it is a commodity of which the supply never 
exceeds the demand. There is no danger of 



282 A VOICE FROM 

the market being glutted. The world will 
always want men. The worth of one is infin- 
ite. To this value all other values are merely 
relative. Our money, our schools, our gov- 
ernments, our free institutions, our systems of 
religion and forms of creeds are all first and 
last to be judged by this standard: what sort 
of men aud women do they grow ? How are 
men and women being shaped and molded by 
this system of training, under this or that 
form of government, by this or that standard 
of moral action ? You propose a new theory 
of education ; what sort of men does it turn out ? 
Does your system make boys and girls super- 
ficial and mechanical ? Is it a producing of 
average percentages or a rounding out of man- 
hood, — a sound, thorough, and practical de- 
velopment, — or a scramble for standing and 
marks? 

We have a notion here in America that our 
political institutions, — the possibilities of a lib- 
eral and progressive democracy, founded on 
universal suffrage and in some hoped-for, pro- 
vidential way compelling universal education 
and devotion, — our peculiar American attain- 
ments are richly worth all they have cost in 
blood and anguish. But our form of govern- 
ment, divinely ordered as we dream it to be, 



THE SOUTH. 283 

must be brought to the bar to be tested by this 
standard. It is nothing worth of itself — inde- 
pendently of whether it furnishes a good at- 
mosphere in which to cultivate men. Is it 
developing a self respecting freedom, a sound 
manliness on the part of the individual — or 
does it put into the power of the wealthy few 
the opportunity and the temptation to corrupt 
the many ? If our vaunted " rule of the people " 
does not breed nobler men and women than 
monarchies have done — it .must and will inev- 
itably give place to something better. 

I care not for the theoretical symmetry and 
impregnable logic of your moral code, I care 
not for the hoary respectability and traditional 
mysticisms of your theological institutions, I 
care not for the beauty and solemnity of your 
rituals and religious ceremonies, I care not 
even for the reasonableness and unimpeacha- 
ble fairness of your social ethics, — if it does 
not turn out better, nobler, truer men and 
women, — if it does not add to the world's 
stock of valuable souls, — if it does not give us 
a sounder, healthier, more reliable product 
from this great factory of men — I will have 
none of it. I Shall not try to test your logic, 
but weigh your results — and that test is the 
measure of the stature of the fullness of a man. 



284 A VOICE FROM 

You need not formulate and establish the 
credibility and authenticity of Christian Evi- 
dences, when you can demonstrate and prove 
the present value of Christian men. And 
this test for systems of belief, for schools of 
thought, and for theories of conduct, is also 
the ultimate and inevitable test of nations, of 
races and of individuals. What sort of men 
do you turn out ? How are you supplying the 
great demands of the world's market? What 
is your true value ? This, we may be sure, 
will be the final test by which the colored 
man in America will one day be judged in 
the cool, calm, unimpassioned, unprejudiced 
second thought of the American people. 

Let us then quietly commend ourselves to 
this higher court — this final tribunal. Short 
sighted idiosyncracies are but transient phe- 
nomena. It is futile to combat them, and un- 
philosophical to be depressed by them. To 
allow such things to overwhelm us, or even to 
absorb undue thought, is an admission of 
weakness. As sure as time is — these mists will 
clear away. And the world— our world, will 
surely and unerringly see us as we are. Our 
only care need be the intrinsic worth of our 
contributions. If we represent the ignorance 
and poverty, the vice and destructiveness, the 



THE SOUTH. 285 

vagabondism and parasitism in the world's 
economy, no amount of philanthropy and be- 
nevolent sentiment can win for us esteem : 
and if we contribute a positive value in those 
things the w x orld prizes, no amount of negro- 
phobia can ultimately prevent its recognition. 
And our great " problem " after all is to be 
solved not by brooding over it, and orating 
about it, but by living into it 



286 A VOICE FROM 



THE GAIN FROM A BELIEF. 



/|) SOLITARY figure stands in the market- 
/-*■ place, watching as from some lonely 
tower the busy throng that hurry past him. 
A strange contrast his cold, intellectual eye to 
the eager, strained, hungry faces that surge by 
in their never ending quest of wealth, fame, 
glory, bread. 

Mark his pallid cheek and haggard brow, 
and the fitful gleam of those restless eyes like 
two lone camp-fires on a deserted plain. 

Why does that smile, half cynical, half sad, 
flit across his countenance as he contemplates 
these mighty heart-throbs of human passions 
and woes, human hopes and human fears ? Is 
it pity — is it contempt — is it hate for this 
struggling, working, believing humanity which 
curls those lips and settles upon that hitherto 
indifferent brow ? 

Who is he? 

Earth's skepticism looking on at the protean 



THE SOUTH. 287 

antics of earth's enthusiasms. Speculative un- 
belief, curiously and sneeringly watching the 
humdrum, common - place, bread-and-butter 
toil of unspeculative belief. Lofty, unimpas- 
sioned agnosticism, that thinks — face to face 
with hobbling, blundering, unscientific faith, 
that works. 

Dare we approach ? 

" Sir : I perceive you are not drawn into the 
whirl -pool of hurrying desires that sweep over 
earth's restless sons. Tour philosophy, I pre- 
sume, lifts you above the toils and anxieties 
the ambitions and aspirations of the common 
herd. Pardon me, but do you not feel called 
to devote those superior powers of yours to the 
uplifting of your less favored brethren ? May 
not you pour the oil of human kindness and 
love on these troubled waters ? May not your 
wisdom shape and direct the channel of this 
tortuous stream, building rip here, and clear- 
ing out there, till this torrent become once 
more a smiling river, reflecting Heaven's pure 
love in its silvery bosom, and again this fruit- 
ful valley blossom with righteousness and 
peace ? Does not your soul^ burn within you 
as you look on this seething mass of struggling, 
starving, sinning souls ? Are you not inspired 
to lift up despairing, sinking, grovelling man, 



288 A VOICE FROM 

— to wipe the grime and tears from his marred 
countenance, and bid him Look aloft and be 
strong, Repent and be saved, Trust God and 
live ! " 

Ah ! the coldness of the look he turned on 
me ! Methought 'twould freeze my soul. 
" Poor fool ! " it seemed to say ; and yet I could 
not but think I discovered a trace of sadness 
as he replied : — 

"What is man? — A curiously fashioned 
clock ; a locomotive, capable of sensations ; — 
a perfected brute. Man is a plant that grows 
and thinks ; the form and place of his growth 
and the product of his thought are as little de- 
pendent on his will or effort as are the bark, 
leaves, and fruit of a tree on its choice. 
Food, soil, climate, — these make up the man, 
— the whole man, his life, his soul (if he have 
one). Man's so-called moral sense is a mere 
dance of molecules; his spiritual nature, a 
pious invention. Remorse is a blunder, re- 
pentance is vain, self-improvement or reform- 
ation an impossibility. The laws of matter 
determine the laws of intellect, and these 
shape man's nature and destiny and are as in- 
evitable and uncontrollable as are the laws of 
gravitation and chemical affinity. You would- 
be reformers know not the stupendous non- 



THE SOUTH. 289 

sense you are talking. Man is as little re- 
sponsible for vice or crime as for fever or an 
earthquake. Those in whom the cerebrum 
shows a particular formation, will make their 
holidays in gambling, betting, drinking, horse- 
racing — their more serious pursuits in stealing, 
ravening, murdering. They are not immoral 
any more than a tiger is immoral ; they are 
simply immoral. They need to be restrained, 
probably, as pests of society, or submitted to 
treatment as lunatics. Their fellows in whom 
the white and gray matter of the brain cells 
are a little differently correlated, will in their 
merry moods sing psalms and make it their 
habitual activity to reach out after the Un- 
known in various ways, trying to satisfy the 
vague and restless longings of what they call 
their souls by punishing themselves and pam- 
pering the poor. I have neither blame nor 
praise. Each class simply believe and do as 
they must. And as for God — science finds 
him not. If there be a God — He is unknown 
and unknowable. The finite mind of man 
cannot conceive the Infinite and Eternal. And 
if such a being exists, he cannot be concerned 
about the miserable wretches of earth. Search- 
ing after him is vain. Man has simply pro- 
jected his own personality into space and 



290 A VOICE FROM 

worshipped it as a God — a person —himself. 
My utmost knowledge is limited to a series of 
sensations within, aware of itself; and a pos- 
sibility of sensations without, both governed 
by unbending laws within the limits of experi- 
ence and a reasonable distance beyond." 

u And beyond that Beyond " I ask breath- 
lessly — " beyond that Beyond ? " 

I am sure I detected just then a tremor as 
of a chill running through that fragile frame ; 
and the eye, at first thoughtful and coldly 
scornful only, is now unmistakably shaded 
with sadness. " Beyond that Beyond ? " he 
repeated slowly, — beyond that Beyond, if there 
be such, — spaces of darkness and eternal silence ! 

Whether this prolonged throb of conscious- 
ness exist after its external possibilities have 
been dissolved— I cannot tell. That is to me 
— a horrible plunge — in the dark ! I stand at 
the confluence of two eternities and three im- 
mensities. I see, with Pascal, only infinities 
in all directions which envelop me like an 
atom — like a shadow which endures for a 
moment and — will never return ! All that I 
know is that I must die, but what I know the 
very least of is that very death — which I can 
not avoid ! The eternal silence of these infinite 
paces maddens me ! " 



THE SOUTH. 291 

Sick at heart, I tujn away and ask myself 
what is this system which, in the words of 
Bichter, makes the universe an automaton, 
and man's future — a coffin ! Is this the cold 
region to which thought, as it moves in its or- 
bit, has brought us in the nineteenth century ? 
Is this the germ of the " Philosophy of the 
future " — the exponent of our " advanced 
ideas," the " new light " of which our age so 
uproariously boasts ? Nay rather is not this 
monstruum horrendum of our day but a renewal 
of the empiricism and skepticism of the days of 
Voltaire ? Here was undoubtedly the nucleus 
of the cloud no bigger than a man's hand, 
which went on increasing in bulk and black- 
ness till it seemed destined to enshroud earth 
and heaven in the gloom of hell. 

David Hume, who, though seventeen years 
younger than Voltaire, died in 1776 just 
two years before the great French skeptic, 
taught skepticism in England on purely met- 
aphysical grounds. Hume knew little or 
nothing about natural science; but held that 
what we call mind consists merely of succes- 
sive perceptions, and that we can have no 
knowledge of anything but phenomena. His 
system afterwards passes through France, is 
borrowed and filtered through the brain of a 



292 A VOICE FROM 

half crazy French schoolmaster, Auguste 
Conte, who thus becomes the founder of the 
Contist school of Positivism or Nescience or 
Agnosticism as it is variously called. The 
adherents of his school admit neither revela- 
tion, nor a God, nor the immortality of the 
soul. Conte held, among other things, that 
two hours a day should be spent in the wor- 
ship of Collective Humanity to be symbolized 
by some of the sexe airnant. On general prin- 
ciples it is not quite clear which is the sexe 
aimant. But as Conte proceeds to mention 
one's wife, mother, and daughter as fitting 
objects of religious adoration because they 
represent the present, past and future of Hu- 
manity — one is left to infer that he considered 
the female the loving sex and the ones to be 
worshipped ; though he does not set forth who 
were to be objects of woman's own adoring 
worship. In this ecclesiastical system which 
Prof. Huxley wittily denominates Romanism 
minus Christianity, Conte made himself High 
Pontiff, and his inamorata, the widow of a 
galley slave, was chief saint. This man was 
founder of the system which the agnostic 
prefers to the teachings of Jesus ! However, 
had this been all, the positivist would have 
been as harmless as any other lunatic. But 



THE SOUTH. 293 

he goes a step farther and sets up his system 
as the philosophy of natural science, originat- 
ing in and proved by pure observation and 
investigation of physical phenomena; and 
scoffs at as presumptuous and unwarrantable 
all facts that cannot be discerned through the 
senses. In this last position he is followed by 
John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer, G. II. 
Lewes, and a noble army of physicists, natur- 
alists, physiologists, and geologists. Says one : 
" We have no knowledge of anything but 
phenomena, and the essential nature of phe- 
nomena and their ultimate causes are unknown 
and inscrutable to us." Says another : " All 
phenomena without exception are governed 
by invariable laws with which no volitions 
natural or supernatural interfere." And 
another : " Final causes are unknown to us 
and the search after them is fruitless, a mere 
chase of a favorite will-o-the-wisp. We know 
nothing about any supposed purposes for 
which organs Q were made.' Birds fly because 
they have wings, a true naturalist will never 
say — he can never know they have wings in 
order that they may fly." 

And Mr. Ingersoll, the American exponent 
of positivism, in his " Why I Am an Agnos- 
tic," winds up a glittering succession of epi- 



294 A VOICE FROM 

grammatic inconsistencies with these words : 
" Let us be honest with ourselves. In the 
presence ot countless mysteries, standing be- 
neath the boundless heaven sown thick with 
constellations, knowing that each grain of 
. sand, each leaf, each blade of grass, asks of 
every mind the answerless question ; knowing 
that the simplest thing defies solution ; feeling 
that we deal with the superficial and the rela- 
tive and that we are forever eluded by the 
real, the absolute, — let us admit the limita- 
tions of our minds, and let us have the courage 
and the candor to say : we do not know." 

It is no part of my purpose to enter into 
argument against the agnostics. Had I the 
wish, I lack the ability. It is enough for me 
to know that they have been met by foemen 
worthy their steel and that they are by no 
means invincible. 

" The average man," says Mr. Ingersoll, 
"does not reason — he feels." And surely 
'twere presumption for an average woman to 
attempt more. For my part I am content to 
' feel/ The brave Switzer who sees the awful 
avalanche stealing down the mountain side 
threatening death and destruction to all he 
holds dear, hardly needs any very correct 
ratiocination on the mechanical and chemical 



THE SOUTH. 295 

properties of ice. He feels there is danger 
nigh and there is just time for him to sound 
the tocsin of alarm and shout to his dear ones 
'fly!' 

For me it is enough to know that by this 
system God and Love are shut out ; prayer 
becomes a mummery; the human will but 
fixed evolutions of law ; the precepts and sanc- 
tions of morality a lie ; the sense of responsi- 
bility a disease. The desire for reformation 
and for propagating conviction is thus a fire 
consuming its tender. Agnosticism has noth- 
ing to impart. Its sermons are the exhorta- 
tions of one who convinces you he stands on 
nothing and urges you to stand there too. If 
your creed is that nothing is sure, there is cer- 
tainly no spur to proselytize. As in an icicle 
the agnostic abides alone. The vital principle 
is taken out of all endeavor for improving 
himself or bettering his fellows. All hope in 
the grand possibilities of life are blasted. The 
inspiration of beginning now a growth which 
is to mature in endless development through 
eternity is removed from our efforts at self 
culture. The sublime conception of life as the 
seed-time of character for the growing of a 
congenial inner-self to be forever a constant 
conscious presence is changed into the base 



296 A VOICE FROM 

alternative conclusion, Let us eat and drink 
for to-morrow ive die. 

To my mind the essence of the poison is just 
here. As far as the metaphysical grounds for 
skepticism are concerned, they are as harmless 
to the masses as if they were entombed in 
Greek or Hebrew. Many of the terms, it is 
true, are often committed to memory and 
paraded pretty much in the spirit of the col- 
lege sophomore who affects gold-bowed spec- 
tacles and stooping shoulders — it is scholarly, 
you know. But the real reasons for and 
against agnosticism rest on psychological and 
scientific facts too abstruse for the laity to 
appreciate. There is much subtle sophistry in 
the oracular utterances of a popular speaker 
like Mr. Ingersoll, which catch the fancy and 
charm the imagination of the many. His bril- 
liant blasphemies like the winged seed> of the 
thistle are borne on the slightest breath of 
wind and find lodgment in the shallowest of 
soils ; while the refutation of them, undertaken 
in a serious and logical vein is often too con- 
clusive to convince : that is, it is too different 
in kind to reach the same class of minds that 
have been inoculated with the poison germs. 

My own object, however, is neither to argue 
nor to refute argument here. I want to utter 



THE SOUTH. 297 

just this one truth : — The great, the funda- 
mental need of any nation, any race, is for 
heroism, devotion, sacrifice ; and there cannot 
be heroism, devotion, or sacrifice in a primar- 
ily skeptical spirit. A great man said of 
France, when she was being lacerated with the 
frantic stripes of her hysterical children, — 
France needs a religion ! And the need of 
France during her trying Revolution is the 
need of every crisis and conflict in the evolu- 
tion of nations and races. At such times most 
of all, do men need to be anchored to what 
they feel to be eternal verities. And nothing 
else at any time can propel men into those 
sublime efforts of altruism which constitute 
the moral heroes of humanity. The demand 
for heroism, devotion and sacrifice founded on 
such a faith is particularly urgent in a race at 
almost the embryonic stage of character-build- 
ing. The Hour is now ; — where is the man ? 
He must believe in the infinite possibilities of 
devoted self-sacrifice and in the eternal gran- 
deur of a human idea heroically espoused. It 
is the enthusiasms, the faiths of the world that 
have heated the crucibles in which were 
formed its reformations and its impulses 
toward a higher growth. And I do not mean 
by f^ith the holding of correct views and 



298 A VOICE FROM 

unimpeachable opinions on mooted ques- 
tions, merely ; nor do I understand it to 
be the ability to forge cast-iron formulas 
and dub them truth. For while I do not 
deny that absolute and eternal truth is, 
— still truth must be infinite, and as incapable 
as infinite space, of being encompassed and 
confined by one age or nation, sect or country 
— much less by one little creature's finite 
brain. 

To me, faith means treating the truth as true. 
Jesus believed in the infinite possibilities of an 
individual soul. His faith was a triumphant 
realization of the eternal development of the 
best in man — an optimistic vision of the human 
aptitude for endless expansion and perfecti- 
bility. This truth to him placed a sublime 
valuation on each individual sentiency — a 
value magnified infinitely by reason of its im- 
mortal destiny. He could not lay hold of this 
truth and let pass an opportunity to lift men 
into nobler living and firmer building. He 
could not lay hold of this truth and allow his 
own benevolence to be narrowed and distorted 
by the trickeries of circumstance or the color- 
ings of prejudice. 

Life must be something more than dilettante 
speculation. And religion (ought to be if it 



THE SOUTH. 299 

isn't) a great deal more than mere gratification 
of the instinct for worship linked with the 
straight - teaching of irreproachabla credos. 
Religion must be life made true; and life is 
action, growth, development — begun now and 
ending never. And a life made true cannot 
confine itself — it must reach out and twine 
around every pulsing interest within reach of 
its uplifting tendrils. If then you believe that 
intemperance is a growing vice among a people 
within touch of your sympathies ; if you see 
that, whereas the " Lord had shut them in," 
so that from inheritance there are but few 
cases of alcoholized blood, — yet that there is 
danger of their becoming under their changed 
circumstances a generation of inebriates — if 
you believe this, then this is your truth. Take 
up your parable and in earnestness and faith 
give it out by precept and by example. 

Do you believe that the God of history often 
chooses the weak things of earth to confound 
the mighty, and that the Negro race in Amer- 
ica has a veritable destiny in His eternal pur- 
poses, — then don't spend your time discussing 
the ' Negro Problem' amid the clouds of your 
fine havanna, ensconced in your friend's well- 
cushioned arm-chair and with your patent 
leather boot-tips elevated to the opposite 



300 A VOICE FROM 

mantel. Do those poor " cowards in the 
South " need a leader — then get up and lead 
them ! Let go your purse-strings and begin 
to live your creed. Or is it your modicum of 

truth that God hath made of one blood all 

• 

nations of the earth; and that all interests 
which specialize and contract the broad, lib- 
eral, cosmopolitan idea of universal brother- 
hood and equality are narrow and pernicious, 
then treat that truth as true. Don't inveigh 
against lines of longitude drawn by others 
when at the same time you are applying your 
genius to devising lines of latitude which are 
neither race lines, nor character lines, nor in- 
telligence lines — but certain social-appearance 
circlets assorting your "universal brotherhood" 
by shapes of noses and texture of hair. If 
you object to imaginary lines — don't draw 
them ! Leave only the real lines of nature and 
character. And so whatever the vision, the 
revelation, the idea, vouchsafed you, 

Think it truly and thy thoughts shall the soul's famine feed. 
Speak it truly and each word of thine shall be a fruitful seed; 
Live it truly and thy life shall be a grand and holy creed! 

Macaulay has left us in his masterly de- 
scription of Ignatius Loyola a vivid picture of 
the power of a belief and its independence of 
material surroundings. 



THE SOUTH. • 301 

i On the road from the Theatine convent in 
Venice might have been seen once a poor 
crippled Spaniard, wearily but as fast as his 
injured limbs can carry him making his way 
toward Rome. His face is pinched, his body 
shrunken, from long fast and vigil. He enters 
the City of the Csesars without money, with- 
out patrons, without influence ! but there 
burns a light in his eye that recks not of de- 
spair. In a frequented portion of a busy street 
he stops and mounts a stone, and from this 
rude rostrum begins to address the passers by 
in barbarous Latin. Lo, there is contagion in 
the man ! He has actually imparted of his 
spirit to that mottled audience ! And now the 
same fire burns in a hundred eyes, that shone 
erewhile from his. Men become his willing 
slaves to do his bidding even unto the ends of 
the earth. With what courage, what zeal, 
what utter self-abnegation, with what blind 
devotion to their ends regardless of means do 
they preach, teach, write, act ! Behind the 
thrones of kings, at the bedside of paupers, 
under every disguise in every land, mid pesti- 
lence and famine, in prisons oft, in perils by 
land and' perils by sea, the Jesuit, undaunted, 
pursues his way.' 

Do you seek to know the secret charm of 



302 A VOICE FROM 

Ignatius Loyola, the hidden spring of the 
Jesuit's courage and unfaltering purpose? It 
is these magic words, " I believe" That is 
power. That is the stamping attribute in 
every impressive personality, that is the fire 
to the engine and the moter force in every 
battery. That is the live coal from the altar 
which at once unseals the lips of the dumb — 
and that alone which makes a man a positive 
and not a negative quantity in the world's 
arithmetic. With this potent talisman man 
no longer " abideth alone." He cannot stand 
apart, a cold spectator of earth's pulsing strug- 
gles. The flame must burst forth. The id£a, 
the doctrine, the device for betterment must 
be imparted. " I believe" — this was strength 
and power to Paul, to Mohammed, to the 
Saxon Monk and the Spanish Zealot, — and 
they must be our strength if our lives are to 
be worth the living. They mean as much to- 
day as they did in the breast of Luther or of 
Loyola. Who cheats me of this robs me of 
both shield and spear. Without them I have 
no inspiration to better myself, no inclination 
to help another. 

It is small service to humanity, it seems to 
me, to open men's eyes to the fact that the 
world rests on nothing. Better the turtle of 



THE SOUTH. 303 

the myths, than a, perhaps. If " fooled they must 
he, though wisest of the wise," let us help to 
make them the fools of virtue. You may 
have learned that the pole star is twelve de- 
grees from the pole and forbear to direct your 
course by it — preferring your needle taken 
from earth and fashioned by man's device. 
The slave brother, however, from the land of 
oppression once saw the celestial beacon ^nd 
dreamed not that it ever deviated from due 
North. He believed that somewhere under its 
beckoning light, lay a far away country where 
a man's a man. He sets out with his heavenly 
guide before his face— would you tell him he 
is pursuing a wandering light? Is he the 
poorer for his ignorant hope ? Are you the 
richer for your enlightened suspicion ? 

Yes, I believe there is existence beyond our 
present experience ; that that existence is 
conscious and culturable ; and that there is a 
noble w a ork here and now in helping men to 
live into it. 

" Not in Utopia, — subterraneous fields, — 
Or some secreted island, Heaven knows where ! 
But in this very world, which is the world 
Of all of us — the place where in the end 
We find our happiness, or not at all ! " 

There are nations still in darkness to whom 



304 A VOICE FROM 

we owe a light. The world is to be moved 
one generation forward — whether by us, by 
blind force, by fate, or by God ! If thou be- 
lievest, all things are possible ; and as thou 
believest, so be it unto thee. 



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Pr eservation treatment 

for this book was 

made possible through the 

Mary Eddy Klein '42 and 

Margaret Kennedy Klein 72 

Library Preservation Fund 

for Special Collections 






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